East Antrim Ulster Unionist Party MLA Roy Beggs Jnr, who for many years had been lobbying for the A2 Greenisland up-grade, has welcomed the award of the contract for the A2 Road improvement scheme.
Mr Beggs said,
“This is a red letter day for the residents, businesses and commuters from Carrickfergus and surrounding area who have suffered significant traffic congestion and delays for decades. With the appointment of a main contractor, the much needed and long awaited work to uncork the Greenisland A2 traffic bottleneck is ready to go. It can be expected that with all the statutory processes completed, work will begin in a few months after the contractor sets up his site yard.
At this point it is worth reflecting that the appointment of an Ulster Unionist Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy with a mandate to progress the A2 road dualling in June 2011 was a crucial factor in getting this project back on the agenda.
I am personally delighted that we have been able to achieve our manifesto commitment to “advocate a refocusing on the need to commission the A2 project at Greenisland” despite the difficulties placed in our way by the previous Minister who prioritised other schemes without the same level of need.
When I was first elected, some other representatives said that the A2 Greenisland road widening would never happen. However, I persevered by lobbying through the development of the Belfast Metropolitan Area Planning process which recognised the A2 road widening as a priority in the area plan for Greater Belfast. I then continued to highlight the A2 at Greenisland as the most heavily congested road at the Assembly and again through the Regional Development Committee. I am therefore delighted that the contract to carry out the road widening scheme has now been issued.
Whilst, I understand that 2 lanes of traffic will be maintained during busy commuter periods, I suspect that there will be some degree of traffic congestion during the construction stage. However, the Roads Minister, Danny Kennedy MLA and Translink have shown commendable foresight by up grading trains and by expanding park and ride facilities over recent years and by including the St Brides Street car park as a free Park and Ride facility until the scheme is completed. This will create further options for commuters to use the much improved train service. I have no doubt that when this work is completed, there will be significant benefits to the people of East Antrim. Businesses should increasingly see Carrickfergus as an attractive area to locate; commuters time and precious fuel should not be wasted sitting in congested traffic. I would expect job opportunities and property prices to improve as a result.”