I have just announced the publication of the public inquiry inspector's report, departmental statement and notice to proceed. That allows officials to begin consultation with key stakeholders, including the local community, in line with the recommendations in the inspector's report.
The scheme will address a major bottleneck in the strategic road network, replacing the existing signalised junction at York Street with direct links between the Westlink, the M2 and the M3, three of our busiest roads in the North. It will also separate strategic traffic from local traffic movements.
The inspector appointed to chair the inquiry to examine the case for and against the scheme concluded that the case to replace the existing York Street junction had been demonstrated. The procurement process for the scheme is well advanced and was progressed in parallel with the statutory processes. The appointment of a contractor would aid discussions with the local communities on the impacts of the construction process. However, I will need to consider the funding for the project, together with other priorities, as part of my budget 2017-2021 considerations before deciding whether to award the York Street interchange contract. The scheme remains a priority for me, and I am committed to do all that I can to deliver it in the current financial context, working with the Finance Minister and other Executive colleagues.