A26 dualling - Glarryford to A44 Drones Road


Construction scheme (completed)
To dual about a third of the A26 between Ballymena and Ballymoney, which forms part of the main route north from Belfast via Antrim to Coleraine.
BAM/McCann consortium
Total Length
7.0km / 4.4 miles

Frosses Trees planted to stabilise road - 1839
Scheme proposed in RSTN TP, 2005

Public Information Day held 15-16 Nov 2006

Preferred route announced - 11 Aug 2008

Draft legal documents published - 20 Mar 2012
Public Exhibition - 26-27 Mar 2012
Public Inquiry took place from 5 Nov 2012

Scheme given finance and approved for construction 21 Oct 2013

Scheme put out to initial tender - 4 Dec 2013

Advance site works contract began - 27 Jan 2014

Award of contract to BAM/McCann consortium - 21 Oct 2014
Official contract start date - 19 Jan 2015

Contractor mobilisation works began on site - Early Feb 2015
Official sod-cutting ceremony - 26 Mar 2015

Construction began - 30 Mar 2015
Road fully opened to traffic - 11pm, 6 Jun 2017
Official opening - 12 Jun 2017

(completion changed from "by 2018" as of Nov 2008, changed from "early 2010" as of Nov 2006)


£65m (as of Dec 2013)
(revised from £61m as of June 2012; revised from £50m-£70m as of April 2010; £52m as of August 2008; itself revised from £33.4m as of 2006; and that revised from £22.9m as of 2005)

See below.
See Also

General area map

Official web site for the scheme (Roads Service)

Design of the new road - PDF format
A26 Ballymena to Glarryford on this site

Click here to jump straight down to updates for this scheme.

The A26 is the principal route north from Antrim to Coleraine, passing Ballymena and Ballymoney on the way. It is very busy, particularly at peak times and in the summer when holidaymakers go to the north coast. If the original motorway plans of the 1960s had taken place, this traffic would all be carried by the M2. However, the M2 was never completed and so the A26 carries the burden. The dualling of the section from Antrim to Ballymena was completed between 1989 and 2001. The section north of Ballymena, which according to Roads Service carries 18,000 vehicles per day, has been dualled as far as Glarryford (about 7km). This scheme saw the next 7km dualled as far as the A44 Drones Road junction where all the traffic for Ballycastle diverts. The map below shows the section in question in red. The red pins indicate the locations of grade separated junctions, while the blue pin is a ground level roundabout.

The route of the scheme, announced in August 2008, is essentially an online upgrade of the existing road, drifting offline only to bypass the Frosses Trees and to cross a river near Clogh Mills. The road has three "compact" grade separated junctions (ie flyovers) which are, from south to north at:

  • B64 Springmount Road/Station Road (near Glarryford)
  • C61 Lisnasoo Road (just north of the Frosses Trees)
  • B93 Killagan Road / B94 Drumadoon Road (at Logan's Fashions)

Other than these locations, vehicles are NOT be permitted to turn right across the central reservation which is entirely closed. There are ten left-in/left-out T-junctions along the road to give access to properties and farms not accessible from the grade separated junctions. The upgrade terminated at a new roundabout at the A26/A44 Drones Road junction which was previously a Y-junction for traffic heading to Ballycastle to diverge. The Frosses Trees have been preserved in the form of two laybys adjacent to the upgraded road. You can see a map of the design in PDF format by clicking here. Please tell me if this link does not work, as TransportNI sometimes change links. The road has a shared foot/cycleway along its length.

The purpose of the scheme was to reduce traffic congestion by increasing the road's capacity/overtaking opportunities, and improving safety by reducing conflicting movements and eliminating head-on overtaking. Arup were commissioned in April 2006 to develop the project.

Other Routes Considered

Roads Service considered five route options before settling on the Blue Route.

  1. The Orange Route involves largely widening 60% of the existing road with an offline route on the northern end to the west of the current road.
  2. The Green Route is to widen 80% of the existing road with 20% of the northern end offline to the west.
  3. The Blue Route is to widen the existing road in its entirety. This option was chosen.
  4. The Red Route is an almost entirely new alignment to the east of the current road.
  5. The Yellow Route is only entirely offline east of the current road at the south end and to the west at the north end.

Maps of these options are available here. (in the Appendices)


11 Jun 2017: The road was fully opened to traffic at around 11pm on 6 June 2017, and by the next morning people were putting messages on social media praising the new road and noting how much of a welcome change it is to be able to drive past Glarryford and the Frosses Trees at 70mph on such a safe road. The official opening will take place on Monday, 12 June. While there are some ongoing works to complete over the coming weeks, eg landscaping works, from the point of view of the travelling public the road is now completed and I have marked it as such on this web site. Well done to the contractors, BAM and FP McCann, for completing such a challenging project to such a high standard. Travellers will benefit from this project, which brings Belfast and the North Coast a bit closer together, for decades to come. The pictures below were taken by Ryan Brown (thank you) on the morning of 7 June 2017, just hours after it opened fully and are arranged in order from south to north.

Pic 1: Looking north along the completed A26 at the south end of the scheme, with the Glaryford flyover visible ahead, and the southbound onslip from the Glarryford junction visible on the right beside the white van. 7 June 2017. [Ryan Brown]

Pic 2: View north along the new A26 on 7 June 2017, about to pass to the right of the "Big" Frosses Trees, which are still accessible as a northbound layby. [Ryan Brown]

Pic 3: A bit further north and the new A26 swings across the line of the old road to pass to the left of the "Wee" Frosses Trees, visible here on the right. This is accessible as a southbound layby. On the left is a left-in/left-out junction providing access to agricultural property. 7 June 2017. [Ryan Brown]

Pic 4: Further north, this is the flyover at Drumadoon Road junction, with Logan's Fashions visible just to the right of the sign. Note the ramp up the embankment on the left, which is a pedestrian route up onto the link road. Note also that the embankments are festooned with saplings, so that in ten years or so this view will look very different. 7 June 2017. [Ryan Brown]

Pic 5: The terminal roundabout at the north end of the scheme, at the A44 Drones Road intersection, now complete and in use. 7 June 2017. [Ryan Brown]

14 Apr 2017: The scheme continues to advance and it is looking as if all four lanes could well be open by the summer. Today's update brings you three nice aerial shots taken about a month ago and published with permission of the contractor, BAM/McCann, plus some ground level shots taken by Adrian Martin at the Glarryford junction. At Glarryford (pics 1-5) the Springmount Road (eastern side of the junction) re-opened to traffic on 12 April, meaning that at this junction it is just the link road over the bridge that needs completed. The next junction, Lisnasoo Road, is now complete and in use. At the next junction, Drumadoon Road (Logans), the connecting road between the two sides of the junction is open and the on/offslip on the eastern side has been constructed, as well as the park-and-share facility (pic 6). Finally, the last junction, the roundabout at the A44 diverge, is complete (pic 7). Between these junctions traffic is using one carriageway of the new road along the whole stretch, with some stretches essentially complete while others still have work to be done.

Pic 1: Aerial view of Glarryford junction on 6 Mar 2017, looking west with Ballymena to the left and Ballymoney to the right. At this point Springmount Road (bottom right) was closed for realignment, but has since reopened. The main piece of work remaining is to build the connecting road over the bridge. You can see that the on/offslip on the left is temporarily set up as a standard T-junction. [BAM/McCann, with permission]

Pic 2: View east along Springmount Road on 7 Apr 2017 with the new junction behind the camera. The road here is being realigned to meet the new bridge and opened on 12 April. [Adrian Martin]

Pic 3: View of the new offslip/onslip on the east side of the Glarryford junction on 7 Apr 2017. This is the loop visible on the right of picture 1 showing how work has advanced in the month between the two images. [Adrian Martin]

Pic 4: View south from Glarryford junction along the new dual-carriageway on 7 Apr 2017, which is still limited to one lane each way though largely complete. Note the numerous new lighting columns, yet to receive their heads. [Adrian Martin]

Pic 5: Same view as pic 4, but looking slightly more to the left on 7 Apr 2017. This is the view along the original southbound carriageway of the A26, with the road surface now removed and replaced with soil. Only the original footpath remains in-situ to show its former route. Ahead can be seen Newbridge Bridge (actually over 100 years old) which is no longer used by vehicles, but remains in place due to its historic significance. [Adrian Martin]

Pic 6: Drumadoon Road junction seen from the air on 6 Mar 2017, looking west (Ballymena to left, Ballymoney to right). The bridge and connecting road is now open and both pairs of sliproads are being constructed. At the point this image was taken Killagan Road (far side) was open to traffic but access from the A26 directly onto Drumadoon Road (foreground) was shut. I understand that Drumadoon Road has since reopened. The large rectangle at the lower right will be a 100-space park-and-share facility beside one of only two roundabouts being built on the scheme. [BAM/McCann, with permission]

Pic 7: The terminus of the scheme at the A44 Drones Road seen on 6 Mar 2017. This view is looking east with the new dual-carriageway heading off to the right, the existing (non-upgraded) A26 to the bottom left and the A44 to Ballycastle going to the left. The roundabout has since been completed and fully opened to traffic. [BAM/McCann, with permission]

8 Feb 2017: This update is to bring you some lovely photographs that were taken on 29 January by the wonderful Adrian Martin - thank you. They show works in two locations - firstly the area around the existing filling station between Glarryford and the Frosses Trees, and then the area around the Lisnasoo Road grade-separated junction. The pictures are arranged in order from south to north.

1. This is the view looking south along the original A26 from near the petrol filling station about 800 metres north of Glarryford junction on 29 Jan 2017. All traffic is now using the new road to the right, so this road is deserted, though still technically open as it’s being retained to provide access to some private properties. [Adrian Martin]

2. Same location as previous shot, but turning round 180° to look north. The filling station is on the right, and ahead you can see the old road which is now essentially one-way and accessible by an off-slip and on-slip (foreground). As well as giving access to the filling station, it also gives access to two local access roads. The bridge ahead is an accommodation farm overbridge. Seen on 29 Jan 2017. [Adrian Martin]

3. Moving north to a point about 100 metres south of Lisnasoo Junction on 29 Jan 2017, this is the view along the old A26 through the “Wee Frosses Trees”, which are now devoid of through traffic for the first time in over a century. This is now a dead-end with a turning circle at the end of the trees. It will be accessible from the Lisnasoo Road junction and will be signed as a rest area so that these unique, if rather dilapidated, trees can still be enjoyed. [Adrian Martin]

4. Same location as previous shot, but turning round 180° to look north. This is the view of Lisnasoo Road junction on 29 Jan 2017, now open to traffic though limited to one lane each way. The photographer is on the old road which is still accessible - see caption to previous photo for more details. The curved road on the left is the northbound off/on-slip pair. [Adrian Martin]

5. This amazing shot is looking south along the new A26 from Lisnasoo Road junction on 29 Jan 2017, showing just how advanced this part of the scheme is with the final surface down, paint in place and central crash barrier well advanced. It is hard for me to believe that less than a year ago I walked through this excavation ankle deep in mud! You can see the “Wee Frosses Trees” on the left, beyond the sliproads, but dwarfed by the new road that now zooms past behind them. [Adrian Martin]

6. Finally, this is the same location as previous shot, but turning round 180° to look north from the Lisnasoo Road junction on 29 Jan 2017. This is a large cutting - the land surface was originally at the level of the photographer. you can still see the line of the old road which ran along the top of the cutting to the right, before rejoining the route of the new dual-carriageway just ahead. [Adrian Martin]

27 Dec 2016: This update is to bring you three amazing aerial photographs which were taken for the contractor (BAM/FP McCann) on 16 December, and are reproduced here with their permission - thank you. They show progress at three of the four junctions on the scheme: Lisnasoo Road, Drumadoon Road (Logans) and Drones Road (the terminating roundabout on the scheme, which opened fully on 19 December). The captions below give more comments on each image. In other news, traffic was transferred to the new northbound lanes from south of Cloughmills Water to Ballyligg Farm on Wednesday 28th November. Also, Lisnasoo Road junction will open to traffic on 9 January. On the same date, Drumadoon Road will be closed to allow the next phase of works to begin. By the original timetable there is now only 8 months left of this 28 month scheme, so we are almost three-quarters done. Note that the contractor is maintaining a page on their web site detailing current progress, which I encourage you to visit.

Pic 1: Aerial view of Lisnasoo Road grade-separated junction on 16 Dec 2016, looking south -east with Ballymena towards the top right. This is just north of the Frosses Trees. Traffic has been using the new cutting for some time now, with no access to Lisnasoo Road (seen to the top left) while the sliproads are built. Work on these looks to be nearing completion with surfacing laid. The pink colour on the bridge is probably a waterproof membrane, which will be covered with tarmac in due course. The old road ran along the side of the cutting: you can still see a short stretch to the left of the frame with a yellow dump-truck parked on it. The junction is due to open on 9 January 2017. [FP McCann]

Pic 2: Aerial view of Drumadoon Road grade-separated junction on 16 Dec 2016, looking north-west with Ballymena towards the bottom left. The huge white building in the centre is Logan’s fashions, while the bridge and new road that will connect the two sides of the junction is now in place, though not yet open to traffic. The two existing side roads will become left-in/left-out T-junctions, each forming half of the new junction. To allow this to work smoothly, they are being realigned onto large loops. You can see the loop on the left side of the junction is now in place (just above Logan’s), but work has just begun on the loop on the right side of the junction (where the digger is).

Pic 3: Aerial view of the Drones Road roundabout, in place and partially in use on 16 Dec 2016. This view is looking east with Ballymena to the right. This is the northern end of the upgrade, so the road to the bottom left is the existing A26 which will remain a single-carriageway for the foreseeable future. The road to the top left is the A44 towards Ballycastle. The dark area to the right of the roundabout is the old route of the A26, no longer in use. It will be removed. Until 19 December, when the roundabout opened fully, all traffic was being diverted up the A44, and signed back onto the A26 via Kilraughts Road in Ballymoney, though people with local knowledge could find ways back onto the A26 much earlier than this.

For updates prior to December 2016, please see the archive.