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Transport Sectoral Format

Part of Ministerial Statement – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:15 pm on 11th May 2009.

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Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin 12:15 pm, 11th May 2009

One of the objectives of the North/South Ministerial Council meetings is to ensure a high degree of integration between the transport sectors, and that is what we are striving towards. The A5 road improvement scheme is a good example of that sort of approach, as is the Newry to Dundalk link.

Over the years — not just since 2007 — excellent working relationships have been developed between the Roads Service and the National Roads Authority, and, out of the public spotlight, formalised working groups have done quite a bit of careful work to ensure that there is a degree of co-ordination and integration on cross-border transport matters. Work involving not just roads but public transport will go on.

If the downturn continues, I have no doubt that pressure will build on the Budget; however, we are operating and planning on the basis that moneys that have been identified will be available to us. In the interim, that is all that we can do.

I am sure that the Member will be pleased to hear that the first target of the A5 improvement scheme — the announcement of the route corridor options — was achieved ahead of schedule. I think that in July we will be in a position to announce the preferred route for the corridor, and we will then be able to get down to more detailed work. A significant amount of work has been ongoing and is ahead of schedule.

As I said about the A6 project, people assume that roadworks have started only when they see plant and people in high-visibility jackets at the side of the road. However, a significant amount of work has been carried out on design and on undertaking the statutory processes for both the A5 and A6 routes, as is the case for projects on many other major road networks. The work is ongoing and is ahead of schedule, and I anticipate that that good work will bear fruit in that the project will be completed within its agreed timescale.