BALLYNURE residents have pledged to continue their fight against plans for the new A8 Larne to Belfast dual carriageway.
Last week the Stormont administration said funding for the £100million project was now available and the proposed road scheme would progress pending the outcome of a public inquiry process.
If the results of the inquiry, held last June, give the green light for the scheme, then work on the nine-mile stretch of road, which it is estimated will cost in the region of between £110m and £120m, could begin as early as this April and take three years to complete.
Part of the new road will be built through Ballynure - dividing the village in two and forcing its residents into long diversions to get from one side of the place to the other.
Residents have pushed for Roads Minister Danny Kennedy to re-consider the scale of the project, which they see as “over-ambitous” and a “waste of money”.
Ballynure resident Nicholas Irwin said news of funding being made available for the project was met with “shock” and “disappointment” in the village.
He said: “It just defies logic, but that is something we are having to get used to very quickly.
“It will be three years this August since this all began and we are having to get used to these mad decisions.
He went on: “We are not against the road’s improvements.
“But to spend anywhere near £120m - or possibly even £150m - which it will likely cost in the end, on a road that has falling traffic numbers is madness.
“With sailings into Larne cut, the numbers of cars using the road are dropping every day - there is never bad traffic on the road, even at the busiest of times.
“There are much better and more deserving projects, and government departments that could do with this money - just look at the state of the health service for a start.
“Or the money could build an awful lot of social housing and put tradesmen into jobs.”
Nicholas continued: “We are in favour of improvements, work is needed there is no doubt. But to spend this amount of money tearing apart Ballynure just to save a couple of minutes driving time is ludicrous.”
In the coming weeks residents will be meeting with Transport Minister Danny Kennedy to outline their concerns.
Mr Irwin added: “We are not finished yet, we will continue the fight, this is by no means over. We have no choice, this is people’s homes, land, businesses and livelihoods which are at stake.
“And the impact on the whole environment on the entire Sixmile valley will be huge.
“It is not just about putting a line down a map, this is something people will have to live with for years and generations to come.
“The undeniable fact is that there is not the traffic to justify this massive amount of money.
“We would like an independent voice to come in on this matter and look at this objectively - we are just not convinced anyone could make this decision with all the facts available.”