A29 Cookstown Bypass

 

Status
Construction scheme (future)
Where
To provide a single-carriageway bypass to the east of Cookstown town centre.
Total Length

3.95 km / 2.45 miles of new two-lane road plus

0.30 km / 0.19 miles of dualling of the existing A29 north of the town

Dates

1978 - Scheme proposed in East Tyrone Area Plan

1999 - Scheme included in Cookstown Transportation Study

2005 - Included in Regional Strategic Transport Plan

2006 - Included in Sub-Regional Transport Plan for Cookstown

June 2007 - Consultants appointed to progress design

Late 2008 - Initial report recommends eastern corridor

10 June 2010 - Preferred route announced
2020 - Publication of draft legal orders expected (as of Jun 2018)

(construction date changed from "2012" as of Sep 2008)

Cost

30-40m (as of Feb 2015)
(changed from 29.9m as of June 2010; 13.1m as of Spring 2009; 10.8m in 2002 prices as of June 2005)

Photos

Start of proposed bypass on Dungannon Road (Google Streetview)

Route of proposed bypass as seen from Killymoon Road (Streetview)

Site of proposed roundabout on Cloghog Road (Streetview)

Route of proposed bypass as seen from Coagh Road (Streetview)

Site of proposed roundabout on Moneymore Road (Streetview)

See Also

General area map - Google Maps

Official web site on scheme - Roads Service

A505 Sandholes Link Road - on this site

2010 Public Information Leaflet - Roads Service

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

Cookstown suffers from traffic congestion because the main A29 route through the town centre is also the main commercial street. Traffic levels on the A29 in 2007 were 17,900/day north of the town and 9600/day south of the town. 48% of traffic in the town is going through the town, according to the Stage 1 Scheme Assessment Report. New developments are increasing pressure on this route and the need for an alternative route to service these areas is growing. This scheme envisages a single-carriageway bypass running round the eastern side of the town carrying all traffic that does not wish to stop in the town. The original proposal in 2006 was for a more modest 'distributor' road, but it has since expanded into a proposal for a full bypass. It is estimated that a new bypass would be carrying 22,000 vehicles per day if it had been open in 2014, and 35,000 per day by 2029.

Route as proposed in 2010

The map below shows the approximate route as publicised on 10 June 2010. At the southern end the route begins at the existing roundabout on the Dungannon Road. The route will then run generally north-east across the Ballinderry River, and underneath Killymoon Road. A left-in/left-out junction is proposed for the eastern end of Castle Road, but the town side of Castle Road will become a cul-de-sac. The plans also indicate a short northbound overtaking lane along this stretch. The route then meets Cloghog Road at a proposed new roundabout just to the east of Festival Park. The plans indicate "differential acceleration" lanes in each direction from this roundabout, to allow faster vehicles to overtake slower ones. After the roundabout the route runs north over Coagh Road on a bridge. Old Coagh Road will be severed by the bypass. Finally the route meets Moneymore Road at a new roundabout about 300 metres before the existing dual-cariageway. The plans indicate that this 300 metre stretch will be upgraded to dual-carriageway for safety and consistency. The plans also indicate a southbound differential acceleration lane at this roundabout.

Those who want more details can download the Stage Two Assessment Report which contains much more detailed technical information on the scheme here (link live as of May 2016)


Previous Proposals

The map below shows the route of what was then known as the Cookstown Eastern Distributor, as contained in the 2006 Sub-Regional Transport Plan. Beginning on the A29 Moneymore Road north of the town, the route follows the existing 600 metre "East Circular Road", constructed in the mid 2000s by a private developer. From here the route crosses the Coagh Road and terminates on the existing roundabout at the junction of Dungannon Road and Tullywiggan Road south of the town. This plan will now not be built.

Progress

21 Jul 2018: In their most recent report to Mid Ulster District Council on 29 June, DFI Road confirmed what the council themselves said earlier last month, namely that DFI Roads agreed to allocate funding to resume planning for this project. In the report DFI say they "have appointed a consultant to assist in updating, reviewing and taking forward scheme development work" and go on to say that they have "a view to publishing the draft Statutory Orders and Environmental Impact Assessment Report in 2020". These are the documents that would form the basis of the public inquiry that would certainly be needed. If the scheme passes the public inquiry then it moves into a list of advanced schemes that could proceed if the (currently non-existent) Executive gave it the funding. To explore a best-case scenario, if the Inquiry happened in late 2020 then the outcome would be known by mid 2021, followed a procurement process taking us to early 2022 and work commencing in mid 2022. But in practice there are many schemes competing for funding so it's likely to take longer than this. Local representatives will certainly keep the pressure on DFI to ensure the scheme stays as far ahead in the queue as possible.

24 Jun 2018: The scheme has now been essentially "parked" since 2010, with only a bit of work taking place in that time. A bit of political pressure from Mid Ulster Council has resulted in DFI Roads agreeing do allocate funding to carry out more planning for this project. It's unlikely that this further work will lead to the project happening in the near future. For one thing, it's not regarded as imminent by the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland which just says "after 2020" (which is just what it says against every project that doesn't have a construction timescale). What it probably does mean is some engineer time in DFI Roads being allocated to reviewing the scheme and updating it. Since it's been almost a decade since the preferred rotue was announced, it would probably be necessary to go back and revisit this as road standards, traffic movements, urban fabrics and environmental considerations all change over time. So it's good news that work has resumed, but I would nevertheless not expect to hear too much more in the next year or so.

2 May 2016: It has been over five years since I updated this page, and the reason is that absolutely nothing has happened on the Cookstown Bypass since the Stage 2 Assessment Report was published in 2010. This was confirmed in a Written Question (AQW 54507/11-16) to the DRD Minister in March where she said that "With funding being allocated to other higher priority schemes such as the A5, A6 and Magherafelt Bypass, no further development work is planned at this time for the Cookstown Bypass scheme". This was unusually frank for a DRD Minister - normally they put it in more flowery terms like "further design work is contingent on future budget allocations". But in any case, it suggests that this scheme is basically "parked" until such times as the Executive decides that it is worth recommencing design work, and I would therefore see it as inconceivable that it will happen within 5 years. Given current Executive priorities I also see it as unlikely to be completed within the next 10 years. Needless to say, none of this has gone down well in Cookstown. The only change I can find since 2010 is that the cost is now being quoted as 30-40m, which is slightly up on the estimate of 29.9m being quoted in 2010.

14 Jan 2011: The budget for Roads Service in the period 2011-15 was published yesterday. As suspected in the previous update, budget cuts mean that this scheme looks unlikely to proceed until at least 2015. This also applies to the Sandholes Link Road which is to be built as part of this scheme.

30 Dec 2010: In the previous update I noted how there was no update on the timescale of construction of this scheme. The last indication we got was in 2008 which suggested construction would get underway in 2012. It is notable, therefore, that in this press release two weeks ago Roads Service merely said that "design and development work... was continuing to progress". The fact that there is no mention of further dates suggests that the construction timetable is much vaguer than previously thought. This could well be due to the financial cutbacks.

9 July 2010: The "Preferred Route" for the proposed Cookstown Bypass was announced last month, on 10th June. This is the publication of where the new road is planned to run, although as the final design is developed, the route may still shift a little. You can download the public information leaflet here. The scheme has clearly grown in the development. The 2006 proposal was for a 2.8km long distributor road (ie with lots of junctions) hugging the eastern edge of the town. However, what is now proposed is a road over 1km longer and running much further out from the town. While originally envisaged as a "distributor", the plan is now for a genuine bypass with only one intermediate junction (at Cloghog Road). Presumably the substantically reduced traffic on the main street, once the bypass opens, will render a separate distributor road unnecessary. The route is described in more detail above. The "Eastern Distributor" proposal contained in the Sub-Regional Transport Plan of 2006 is now abolished, as stated by the Minister, since it is superseded by this more ambitious design. Two years ago construction was scheduled for 2012, but it is unknown if this is still the case. The total cost of this route is given in the full report as 29.9m.

The preferred route announcement also contained a proposal for an upgrade to Sandholes Road, which links the A29 to the A505 to Omagh, to create better links between these two routes.

8 June 2010: Roads Service have finally decided to tell us when the public constulation event will take place, with less than 48 hours' notice. It wil take place on Thursday 10th June at South West College, Burn Road, Cookstown. They have not felt the need to say in their press release what time it will run at, so presumably you just turn up on the day and hope for the best. In any event, the exhibition will reveal the "preferred route" for the road. The Minister described the scheme as consisting of "4.25 kms of new carriageway. A new wide single carriageway will extend from the Dungannon Road Roundabout to the south of Cookstown over a distance of 3.95 kms to meet the Moneymore Road to the north at a proposed new roundabout. Under the proposal, the existing dual carriageway between Cookstown and Moneymore will also be extended by some 300 metres to meet this new roundabout. One further roundabout is proposed along the length of the bypass at its junction with the Cloghog Road/Clare Lane, providing convenient access to the town centre and local amenities." I'll post up more information after the event and once the rest of the information has been released.

2 May 2010: Roads Service are saying that there will be a "public information day" during May. This is very likely to coincide with the announcement of the preferred route, which has been anticipated for almost a year. This follows the presentation of the "Stage 2 Report" (a more detailed document) to the Board of Roads Service in late March. However, no information has been released about where or when the public information day will take place.

16 June 2009: The Regional Development Minister gave an update on the scheme last week. He said that "Design work on the proposed Cookstown bypass is progressing well. A public consultation event was held in January of this year and feedback from this, together with on-going design work will facilitate a further public information event to announce the preferred route alignment later this financial year." This may mean that the preferred route announcement may not be announced until Spring 2010, a little later than was hoped last year.

16 May 2009: A few months ago, the detailed initial "Scheme Assessment Report" was issued and is available on the Roads Service web site. Although the web site is giving the cost as "13.1m", the document itself gives the cost of the scheme as being massively higher - in the range 27.4m to 43.9m depending on the route chosen. The document recommends that the eastern route is the best route, although it also recommends an additional road (called the Sandholes Link Road) to link the new road to the A505 Drum Road to the west of the town. The eastern route will now be developed further and route options developed. Last October it was said that the preferred route would be announced "later in 2009".

21 Oct 2008: According to an Assembly written answer on 17 October, the preferred route corridor (the general route of the road) is due to be announced "later this financial year", which we can take to mean sometime around Spring 2009. The specific preferred route (the exact route within the corridor) is scheduled to be announced "later in 2009".

16 Sep 2008: Mid-Ulster MLA Billy Armstrong has claimed that he has had correspondence from Roads Service to the effect that this scheme will go ahead in 2012 with completion in 2014. This is in contradiction to previous official information with has been that this scheme is in the "forward planning schedule", which generally applies to scheme that are at least five years away from commencement. Nevertheless, if this information is accurate, then it means that the scheme may have been moved to the "preparation pool" for schemes that are within five years of commencment. However it is also important to remember that the anticipated start dates for the majority of new road schemes tended to get later over time, so this date of 2012 may well prove to be on the optimistic side. It is still unknown what contribution, if any, private developers will make.

7 Mar 2008: As of now, only the short 600 metre section of the road at its northern end has been completed. Consultants were appointed in June 2007 to progress a design, but according to this written answer, such roads can typically take "at least six years to progress". This should not be taken as a definite timescale, but rather a general indication that construction is not imminent. Private developers may, of course, progress parts of the scheme earlier than this.