THE £100million A8 dual carriageway project is essential for the economic development of east Antrim, and Northern Ireland as a whole.
That was the message from Transport Minister Danny Kennedy as he addressed guests at Corr’s Corner Hotel on Thursday (October 11) at an event to mark the official start of work on the busy commuter route.
The scheme will involve upgrading 14.4km of the road between Coleman’s Corner and Ballyrickard to dual carriageway standard, helping to speed up journey times and improve road safety.
Enabling works such as archaeology digs and culvert installations started in August this year, with the actual road construction expected to be completed by spring 2015.
Local political representatives were joined at the scheme launch by council officials from Newtownabbey and Larne, Roads Service engineers and representatives from the joint contractors, Lagan, Ferrovial and Costain. The guests later assembled at Millbrook near Larne for the official sod cutting ceremony.
“These works, which will take 34 months to complete, are of significant importance to the economic development of Northern Ireland,” the Minister said.
“Upgrading the A8 to dual carriageway will help grow the local economy and contribute to the wider economic development of Northern Ireland, both in the short term and in the long term. It will also help with the development of the Port of Larne, which is the second largest Port in Northern Ireland.
“As part of the Trans European Network, the A8 is a strategically significant European route, which provides an important East-West link, between Northern Ireland and Scotland.”
Welcoming the official start of work on the route, Mayor Victor Robinson commented: “When the Minister announced his decision in May to proceed with this £100million scheme we in Newtownabbey were every bit as happy as they were in Larne because we’ve been waiting a long time as well for this scheme - it’s long overdue.
“We’re very happy today to see the scheme finally progress and I know that work has already started, with culverts and things being built, but I feel that this is the real start of the whole project today.
“I want to thank everyone for their work to date that has got us to this stage and I also want to wish the contractor and everyone involved all the very best and I hope everything goes smoothly. I look forward to driving down the new dual carriageway in two-and-a-half years.”