Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd has attended a meeting of Mid Ulster District Council to discuss key infrastructure projects within their area.
Following the meeting Minister O'Dowd said:
"I welcomed the opportunity to update Members of Mid Ulster District Council on the latest position with a number of important infrastructure projects including the A5 and Cookstown Bypass scheme.
"The A5 dual carriageway is essential, first and foremost to improve road safety. I am acutely aware of the collision history along the existing A5 road with at least 32 lives lost since 2011. Every one of these deaths is a tragedy and my sincere condolences go out to all those affected.
"The A5 is also a strategically important route that will contribute to economic growth and improve connectivity across the island so it is important that it moves forward without further delay. My officials have been working closely with the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) and I am pleased to say that a reconvened public inquiry will be held in January 2023. Receipt of the PAC's final report should then allow a new Ministerial decision to be taken and, subject to the successful completion of all the necessary statutory processes and environmental assessments, construction could then commence in 2024.
"I am also fully aware of the importance of the Bypass scheme to the town of Cookstown and the surrounding area. My officials are continuing to liaise with key stakeholders and landowners and have considered feedback provided on the preferred route of the scheme which was announced last year. The specimen design for the Cookstown Bypass scheme is well advanced and the next stages of development will include a draft Direction Order, draft Vesting Order and Environmental Impact Assessment. It is anticipated these will be ready for publishing during summer 2023. I am aware of the potential inclusion of the Cookstown Bypass in the Mid-South West Growth deal. My Department will continue to work closely with the Council on this issue."