Route chosen for new Newry relief road
A new road linking the A1 Belfast to Dublin road with the Warrenpoint dual carriageway has come a step closer as officials announced a preferred route.
It would allow traffic to travel to and from Warrenpoint Port without having to drive through central Newry.
The proposed relief road would stretch from the Greenbank Industrial Estate to Ellisholding Junction on the A1.
However, it is subject an Environmental Impact Assessment, a public consultation and funding approval.
The preferred route was announced by the Department for Infrastructure on Wednesday after it was selected from a list of five proposals.
The chosen project includes a two-lane bridge over Newry Canal and a climbing lane up Fathom Mountain towards the A1.
It passes close to a quarry at Drumalane and a nearby ancient woodland.
"The route will improve journey times and journey time reliability for strategic traffic between the A2 Warrenpoint Road and the A1/N1," said Southern Divisional Roads Manager, Simon Richardson.
"It will also significantly improve road safety and traffic congestion within Newry city centre by providing an alternative route for strategic traffic."
Mr Richardson added that the project should "support and maintain sustainable economic growth and employment within the area".
It was vital the project moved promptly, said the CEO of Warrenpoint Harbour.
"This crucial piece of infrastructure has the potential to significantly improve the economic prosperity of the region by improving access to the Port thereby supporting trade growth," said Clare Guinness.
"It will also open up the eastern side of Newry for potential commercial development."
A detailed design of the new road is not expected to be complete until late 2019 at the earliest.