A24 Ballynahinch Bypass

 

Status
Construction scheme (future)
Scheme
Construction of a new route taking through traffic on the A24 Belfast to Newcastle route out of the town centre.
Total Length
3.1km (1.9 miles)
Dates

2002 - Regional Transport plan commits to construction by 2015.

June 2005 - Government announces funding to begin statutory processes.

Dec 2005 - Consultants appointed for route selection.

Mar 2006 - route included in Sub-Regional Transport Plan

2007 - preliminary route published

12 Nov 2009 - preferred route announced
2015 - Public inquiry expected (as of Dec 2013)

2018 - Construction could begin, in best-case scenario (as of Dec 2013).

Cost
40m-50m (as of Jan 2012)
revised from 36.4m as of Feb 2009, 12.1m as of Oct 2007, and 10.8m as of 2005
Photos
None as yet - please contact me if you have any to contribute!
See Also

General area map.

Route map - published in 2007 by Roads Service

Ards/Down Area Plan 2015 home page

Vehicles travelling from the Belfast metropolitan area to the popular resorts around Newcastle must negotiate Ballynahinch town centre with a series of chronically congested junctions. This not only frustrates drivers who are part of the through traffic, but increases tension and danger for those living, shopping and working in the town. The proposed bypass will run round the eastern periphery of the town with (appropriately for a bypass) no intermediate junctions. Housing is being permitted up to the line of the road, but no further. The scheme has been proposed since the 1960s, and as of 2010 it has still not been built, and is currently (Feb 2012) scheduled for construction during the period 2014-2019 (ie 60 years after its conception).

Route and Standard

The map below shows an approximation of the preferred route as proposed in November 2009. There are actually three route options, but they are all so similar that it is not worth showing them separately.


View map in Google Maps.

The bypass will start north of the town at a new roundabout on the A21 / A24 junction where a Park-and-Share site may also be constructed. For the first 600 metres there will be two lanes southbound and one lane northbound. After this it reverts to one lane each way. The road will pass under Moss Road without connecting to it. There will then be a junction with the B7 Crossgar Road. The final 1.5km of the road will feature two lanes northbound (to allow overtaking) and one lane southbound. The bypass will terminate on a new roundabout at the junction of the existing A24 with the B2 Downpatrick Road.

Updates

8 Dec 2013: According to a Question for Written Answer to the DRD Minister on 8 November (question ref AQW 27458/11-15), the DRD Minister minister expects to "publish draft statutory orders in 2014/15". These are the legal documents that DRD need to make in order to get permission to build a new trunk road and do things like buy the required land. They're called "draft" because they are then usually subjected to a public inquiry. The Minister's comment means that the scheme could have its public inquiry in 2015. Once/if the scheme passes the public inquiry then the actual versions of the legal documents get created. This is what the DRD Minister means when he goes on to say "...with a view to making those orders in 2016/17". This means that, allowing perhaps six months for the inquiry inspector to present their report, and perhaps a year for the DRD to study it and respond to any recommendations, the scheme could be ready for construction in late 2016 or 2017. This doesn't mean that construction would actually begin at that time, as the scheme must then join the list of schemes that are competing for funding from the Executive, and this final hurdle will depend entirely on the priorities in the Executive at that time. So in a best-case scenario, where the scheme immediately gets funding and goes through a procurement process (normally about 9 months) construction could begin in 2018.

28 May 2012: A site visitor (who prefers to remain anonymous) has taken a panorama of the route of the new road. The panorama is taken from approximately here, and shows around 180 looking generally west. He has marked the approximate route of the road in blue. Click here to see the image. Many thanks for this. There is no other news on this scheme.

25 Jan 2012: According to an announcement by the Minister during a debate in the Assembly yesterday, Roads Service approved the Stage 2 preferred options report for this scheme. This means that they have now decided on a finalised route and junction strategy - it doesn't mean than anything will happen on the ground any time soon. As yet no material on the subject has appeared on the DRD web site, so we are limited to reading the Minister's statement. The route is 3.1km (1.9 miles) long, and from the description appears to be more or less the same as the preferred route option announced in November 2009. The only significant change from the 2009 route is that there now WILL be an intermediate junction, at B7 Crossgar Road. The previous plan had been for a bridge over or under the B7 at this location, so this may mean either (a) a short stretch of link road to link between the two, or (b) replacing the bridge with a roundabout. This change was requested during the public consultation. Normally Roads Service resist adding intermediate junctions on new strategic routes as it tends to attract local traffic that should be on the local road network, but in this case Roads Service appear to have acquiesced on the grounds that its provision would actually transfer a substantial number (670) additional vehicles per day to the Bypass (which is predicted to carry 6,500 per day when opened). These vehicles would otherwise continue into the town centre, hence the provision of the junction would improve congestion in the town. The Minister concluded by stating that the estimated cost has risen, this time to 40m-50m. This compares to the estimate of 36m three years ago. The new junction at Crossgar Road is the only significant change since then, but it's hard to see how this could add as much as 4m-14m to the total cost, so other factors must also be at play. The debate in Stormont highlighted the local demand for this road, but the timescale is unchanged. The official position is still that construction will take place between 2014 and 2019.

6 Mar 2010: The preferred route was announced at a public exhibition held in the town on 12 November 2009. The exhibition must have been carried out in stealth, as no press releases were carried on the DRD web site, and the material has not appeared online since then! Anyhow, it shows the preferred route to be 3km long, around 2/3 of which will be built to 2+1 standard (one lane one way and two in the other) and the rest with one lane each way. There will be no intermediate junctions, which is very sensible for a road whose whole point is to be a "bypass". Skipping intermediate junctions will allow it to remain a bypass and not be used by local traffic that really ought to remain on the local road network. There is no further information on timescale.

18 Oct 2009: According to this press release Roads Service plan to announce the preferred route for this scheme "within the next few weeks". This follows the release of route options during 2007. The scheme is currently timetabled for construction in 5-10 years time.

12 April 2009: In the minutes of the Roads Service board meeting on 26 February 2009, there is the following comment: "sought amendments to the original proposal for Ballynahinch Bypass and noted the consequent reduction in estimated cost from 46.7 million to 36.3 million. On that basis the Board gave Gateway 0 approval to the Eastern Corridor Route Option A and granted permission to proceed to Gateway 1." Both these values are considerably more than the value last publicised (12.1m in October 2007). It's unclear from this statement what exactly the current design is, or what "Eastern Corridor Route Option A" might refer to. But at the very least it suggests that the project is still being actively pursued.

2 February 2009: According to a press release issued in early December 2008, progress on the scheme is awaiting the outcome of the public inquiry into the Ards/Down Area Plan 2015. The inquiry was held between May 2005 and January 2007, and the Planning department is now considering a report by the Planning Appeals Commission, a process that is not yet complete. According to the Regional Development Minister, "It is the intention to propose the Ballynahinch Bypass scheme to preliminary public consultation as soon as practicably possible once the outcome of the public inquiry into Ards/ Down Area Plan 2015 is known. Meanwhile Roads Service is carrying out essential development to ensure it proceeds through statutory procedures." See the links at the top of this page for a link to the latest information on the Ards/Down Area Plan. In November 2008 Roads Service released a leaflet about the scheme that revealed that the road might be built to 2+1 standard with a northbound overtaking lane, although this is not yet certain.

June 2005: In June 2005 the central UK government announced 2m of funding for the scheme and in December 2005 a press release revealed that consultants had been appointed to select a route.