£4m spent on delayed Londonderry to Belfast upgrade

A new road designed to shorten journey times between Londonderry and Belfast has cost the taxpayer more than £4m yet officials still do not know when construction work will begin.

The eight mile dual carriageway has been in the planning for almost a decade.

It is the planned carriageway that links the M2 at Randalstown to the Castledawson roundabout.

The aim was to improve the main road network and reduce journey times.

In 2003 transport officials started work on a plan to build two new dual carriageways either side of Toomebridge.

The money has been spent on development costs and two public inquiries. The development costs include environment impact reports, route design and vesting orders.

The legal and administration costs associated with the two public inquiries have been £150,000.

A preferred route was announced in 2005 and a public inquiry held in 2007. It recommended that the road scheme should go ahead subject to some changes. There was also a further public inquiry.

Cost

The scheme will cost between £100m and £115m but there is no money available.

It was one of a number of major road and capital projects that was included in Northern Ireland's ten year investment strategy which was published in 2008.

Ministers however were forced to cut back on their spending plans and schemes like this. Roads Service have said there is no money available in the current budget.

It is not known when money will become available. Transport minister Danny Kennedy said it was disappointing that construction work on this scheme had not yet started. He was unable to give a date as to when money may become available.