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
Those who want more
details can download the Stage Two
Assessment Report which contains much
more detailed technical information on the
(link live as of May 2016)
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.
21 Jul 2018: In their most recent report
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.