Funding allocation for A5 road upgrade cut by 30m

Thursday, 27 July 2017

PLANNED funding for the delayed A5 project has been reduced this year by 30million, it has emerged.
Stormont had proposed setting aside 40m for the project in the 2017-18 but a senior official within the
Department for Infrastructure's (DfI) has confirmed that the figure has now been cut to 10m.
The reduced funding was confirmed by the department's permanent secretary, Peter May, in a letter to West Tyrone MLA., Daniel McCrossan.
The SDLP man described the revelation as "hugely concerning" and has expressed fears that the continuing deadlock at Stormont is jeopardising the future of the scheme. Work on the Newbuildings to Strabane section of the 86km long scheme is programmed to begin later this year.
In his letter, DfI permanent secretary, Peter May, reaffirmed that the department continues "to strive to expedite delivery of this strategically important flagship project in line with the Fresh Start Agreement".
Outlining the project's current budgetary situation, he continued: "The December 2015 Budget Statement identified a number of flagship projects, including the A5, for which indicative allocations were provided for the 2016-21 period. The indicative allocation for the A5 was 229m, with 40m of this initially profiled for 2017-18.
"To ensure that the anticipated scheme expenditure profile aligns with the associated budget allocation, Department officials have been liaising with their counterparts in the Department of Finance.
"These discussions have yielded a scheme budget allocation of 10m for 2017-18. The full utilisation of this allocation is subject to construction commencing as planned on the Newbuildings to north of the Strabane section late in 2017."
Reacting to the development, Mr McCrossan, said the project must be delivered - 10 years after it was first mooted.
The party's infrastructure spokesperson added that it is now time for Stormont parties to come together and deliver the scheme for everyone.
"The budget for the A5 this year is meant to be 40 million yet only 10 million has been allocated and not a single sod has been turned. It is hugely concerning that instead of 53 million being spent in the last two years, only 13 million will actually be spent - and that's only if the scheme gets up and going by the end of the year," he said.
"The benefits of this scheme are abundantly clear for people living in the West who have lost out in terms of infrastructure development for far too long. The A5 will open up economic opportunity, increase transport connectivity and importantly, reduce road deaths."
In his letter, Mr May confirmed that he will be in a position to sign off on the first phase of the scheme when required if the current political impasse continues at Stormont.
Said Mr McCrossan: "The constant delays in the scheme, the political uncertainty and bickering between the DUP and Sinn Fein have really left the scheme in jeopardy long-term. Funding meant for the A5 will be going elsewhere.
"That is concerning especially if we consider that the southern government look like recommitting 400 million for the A5 upgrade. Yet in Stormont, certain parties cannot come together in the better interests of everyone. It's time the bickering Stormont parties put up or shut up. This is the most important infrastructure scheme on this island and it is being put at risk," Mr McCrossan added.
The SDLP man confirmed he is seeking a meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the DfI and the Irish government to discuss the scheme.


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