Minister Marks Air Quality Improvements Since Opening Of A6 Road Scheme

Marking the first anniversary of the completion of the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe Scheme, Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd has highlighted the significant impact in reducing journey times, improving air quality and delivering economic benefits.

The Minister was speaking at an event to mark the first anniversary, to celebrate its official opening and to thank all those involved in delivering the scheme, including the local community for their support.

Minister O'Dowd said: "Major road schemes are an important part of the work that is delivered by my Department as we seek to reduce journey times, increase reliability and improve road safety. For far too long there was significant regional imbalance in our roads infrastructure - but that tide is now changing. While there is more for us to do, there is no doubt that the investment of over £450million by my Department in two separate schemes on the A6 has been a game changer in improving connectivity and providing huge benefits for road users, businesses and local communities.

"The Dungiven bypass, which has been campaigned for, for many years, now diverts most of the traffic out of the village. The majority of the traffic using the A6 is strategic traffic, which would not have necessarily stopped in Dungiven, prior to the Bypass opening, so wouldn't have been contributing to the local community. However now with the Bypass open, Dungiven itself is a lot quieter, with anyone wishing to stop to use local businesses finding it a lot easier to do so.
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"In the past Dungiven has had some of the worst Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) readings in Western Europe. Standards call for average annual Nitrogen Dioxide readings to be under 40 microgrammes per cubic metre and Dungiven had breached this average several times in the past. Last year, since the Bypass of Dungiven was opened, the lowest average Nitrogen Dioxide readings were recorded of 22 microgrammes per cubic metre, with the local community benefiting from this improved air quality and reduced congestion within the village.

"I want to thank and pay tribute to the community of Dungiven who fought hard for this bypass, some of whom were in attendance today."

Continuing the Minister said: "During its first year approximately 5.3 million journeys were completed on the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe scheme and the feedback from road users has been extremely positive, with shorter, safer and more reliable journey times experienced. When combined with the Randalstown to Castledawson scheme there is an overall saving of over 20 minutes along the A6, delivering huge benefits for all road users. Significantly the transfer of strategic traffic from the centre of Dungiven to the new Bypass has resulted in improved air quality for people living and working in the area.

"I am committed to promoting biodiversity so I am also pleased that over 1.2million trees have been planted on the A6 road including almost 508,000 trees on the Randalstown to Castledawson dualling scheme and 760,000 trees on the Dungiven to Drumahoe scheme.

"In addition, as well as improving the standard of carriageway along the A6, both schemes also provide enhanced provision for public transport. This was achieved by providing three new park and rides sites, with approximately 500 spaces, which are now operational at Drumderg (Toome), Drumahoe and at Claudy. This makes the options for modal shift much more attractive for commuters along the route.

"With thanks to all partners and stakeholders we are all now seeing the huge benefits that have been delivered in the first year and which will continue for future generations."

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