A2 Buncrana Road dualling, Londonderry


Construction scheme (future)
To widen the A2 Buncrana Road, Derry, to four lanes between Pennyburn Roundabout and the County Donegal border
Total Length
4.5 km / 2.8 miles

2005 - Proposed in Regional Strategic Transport Network Transport Plan

Apr 2007 - First public consultation

1-3 Apr 2008 - Second public consultation

10 Feb 2009 - Preferred route announced (online widening)

8 May 2018 - Third public consultation
8 Mar 2019 - Fourth public consultation
Public inquiry - 2020/21 (as of Mar 2019)

Construction in period 2022/23 to 2025/26 as of Mar 2019 (Changed from 2013-2018 as of Dec 2008)
Work on scheme paused pending development of the Northwest Transport Plan - 5 Apr 2023


£85m (as of 2022)
(revised from £45m-£60m as of April 2010; £40-50m as of Jan 2009; £18.3m as of 2005)

See below.

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

The A2 Buncrana Road is the principal route west from Derry towards Letterkenny and county Donegal. The project distinguishes between the 3.1km "urban" section between Pennyburn Roundabout and the A515 Skeoge Link, and the 1.4km "rural" section between the Skeoge Link and the border. The road is heavily trafficked (20,000 vehicles per day on the urban section, 14,000 per day on the rural section) and congested because it only has one lane in each direction.

This scheme aims to increase capacity by widening the route to four lanes: two in each direction. Due to land restraints, the urban section will be single-carriageway (ie, just a white line in the middle) but it is uncertain whether the rural section will be a dual-carriageway (ie, with a central crash barrier) or a single-carriageway. The plan is to include another new roundabout a few hundred metres inside the border. The screenshot below (Google Earth) shows the scope of the upgrade:

Roads Service are treating this project as two separate projects, one for the urban stretch and one for the rural stretch. It is uncertain whether Donegal County Council will be upgrading the N13 towards Letterkenny on the Irish side of the border.

At the first public exhibition in April 2007, Roads Service presented several routes for the urban section. In February 2009 the preferred route as announced - an online upgrade of the existing road. It's unclear what effect it will have on properties.


6 Apr 2023: Followers of this scheme may recall that the publication of the draft design back in 2019 (see below) got a rather muted response. Although the design is similar to that used at Greenisland ten years ago, public opinion in recent years has shifted towards a greater emphasis on the needs of pedestrians and other non-motorised users. Last year the DFI Minister hinted that the appropriateness of the design was causing some pause at DFI by commenting that the design was being looked at to "ensure that it is appropriate and the project is future-proofed". Simultaneous to all this, over the past couple of years or so, work has been underway on a new Regional Transport Strategy (there has been none since the last one expired in 2015). Work is also underway on local transport plans, including one for the Derry area (The Northwest Transport Plan). None of these have been published yet (and we don't have a firm timescale), but it is likely that these plans will have a lot to say about transport within urban areas like Derry. These plans are expected (in DFI's words) to "set the new future direction of transport policy and investment enabling the reduced vehicle trips travelled and modal shift required to ensure that we address our climate change obligations under the Climate Change Act (Northern Ireland) 2022". DFI yesterday said that they were pausing further work on this scheme until these plans are more fully developed. Publishing this the day before the A6 opens is probably an attempt to take attention off bad news, but I do think it is a defensible decision. If DFI proceeded with a plan to convert the Buncrana Road into an urban dual-carriageway, and then the Northwest Transport Plan was published with a completely different approach to managing traffic in the city, then the scheme would be put in a very awkward position. The need for good connections to Donegal is, nonetheless, important so the NW Transport Plan will need to address this in some way, even if it's not by way of the scheme proposed in 2019.

24 Aug 2022: Nothing new has happened publicly on this scheme since 2019. However, the DFI Minister was asked about it via a Written Question last month. The answer did not say much in terms of timescale or what exactly is happening, but it did give a "preliminary estimated cost" of £85m, which is good to know as the last cost I had seen dated from 2010 before the current design was released. It did also say that DFI engineers are "currently finalising the design to ensure that it is appropriate and the project is future-proofed". This may refer to the lukewarm reception that the 2019 plan received - basically a Greenisland-style urban dual-carriageway festooned with roundabouts. I am a fan of the Greenisland design from a safety point of view, though it is also true that it's not great as an urban streetscape so this may be being taken into account.

12 Jun 2020: The DFI Minister announced her budget for the next year, which allocated money to the Executive's flagship projects (A5, A6 and Belfast Transport Hub) but did not give any funding for any other capital road schemes, including the Buncrana Road (it is believed that the Derry City Deal may provide the funding, but I have still not seen that confirmed anywhere). However she followed this up today with a press release clarifying that she had approved funding for the continuation of planning of several planned road schemes, including the A2 Buncrana Road. So that indicates that work will at least continue and that the Minister is supportive of the scheme.

26 Jun 2019: DFI Roads held a public consultation (the fourth for this scheme) on 8 March. You can see the panels that were on display here and also the leaflet that was given out here. The design, which you can see by clicking the thumbnail image below, is similar to the design first proposed in May 2018 but with a few tweaks. These tweaks are highlighted in yellow on the map below, but the most significant are (a) the removal of the roundabout on Coshquin Road and its replacement with a regular T-junction (b) a completely different road layout at the Springtown Road junction and (c) the roundabout on Culmore Road reduced significantly in size, with the fifth arm leading into Fort George deleted. The new design also shows the demolition of an existing industrial building in the Springtown Industrial Estate.

Emerging design of
                            A2 Buncrana Road as of 2019
Click on the graphic above for a more detailed design as of Mar 2019.

All told the scheme has six roundabouts on the 3 mile stretch shown. The design will be an "urban dual-carriageway" at the city end, changing to a "rural dual-carriageway" at the Donegal border end. DFI have released visualisations to show the difference, shown below. The document anticipates publication of the draft legal orders in 2020, a public inquiry by 2021 and construction between 2022/23 and 2025/26. This is a very specific timeline for DFI - these days they are usually much more vague - which suggests that they foresee this scheme actually happening in the next five or six years. This may be related to the fact that this scheme was included in the bid for the Derry-Strabane City Deal which received funding last month. I have yet to see it confirmed, however, that the financial support for the City Deal includes funding for this scheme and, if so, on what timescale.

Visualisation of an urban section of the upgraded Buncrana Road as seen from Pennyburn roundabout. Note the continuous central reservation which will prevent right turns at anywhere except roundabouts. [DFI 2019]

Visualisation of a rural section of the upgraded Buncrana Road at Bannview, looking towards the Donegal border. On this section there will be a continuous safety barrier in the central reservation. [DFI 2019]

6 Mar 2019: DFI Roads approved the preferred design for this scheme during February (almost certainly the roundabout-laden Greeinsland-style design outlined in the previous update below) and this is now going to be presented to the public at an event on Tuesday, 26 March 2019. It will held from 11:00am to 9:00pm at Da Vinciís Hotel, 15 Culmore Road, Derry/Londonderry, BT48 8JB. The next stage of the project would be to produce draft legal orders and then move to a public inquiry. There is currently no funding allocation for construction of the scheme, nor is there likely to be in the next year or two, but the public consultation event in 2018 anticipated construction between 2022/23 and 2025/26.

24 May 2018: DFI held a public consultation event two weeks ago. Before the event I tweeted "expect roundabouts", and that is exactly what we have got! In keeping with how DFI thinking on urban dual-carriageways has evolved in the past ten years, the scheme is now what I call the "Greenisland" design (after the first of its type, opened in 2015) ie a continuous central barrier, left-turns-only, and lots of roundabouts at major junctions and to permit u-turns. This contrasts markedly from the previous design that dates from 2008 which was to have been a four lane single-carriageway. An urban dual-carriageway will have a larger land take, due to the extra space needed for both the central barrier and all the roundabouts, but it is much safer. The result is the number of roundabouts on the route rising from the current three (Pennyburn, Branch and Skeoge) to six (adding Racecourse Road, Springtown Road and Elagh), ie about one every half mile on average. The presentation also gives an estimated "delivery date" (ie, construction) of "2022/23 to 2025/26" which clearly assumes finance will be made available within the next few years. Click on the graphic below for a more detailed design, which I've reproduced in case the DFI web site changes.

Click on the graphic above for a more detailed design as of May 2018. This is a copy from the fifth PDF here.

21 Apr 2018: Out of the blue, DFI have announced that a public consultation into this scheme on Tuesday 8th May 2018, 11am-9pm at Da Vinciís Hotel, 15 Culmore Road, Derry/Londonderry, BT48 8JB. The exhibition will "display and summarise the work carried out so far, provide details of the emerging design and outline the next steps in the development of the scheme". Given that the preferred route was announced almost ten years ago, and that little or no more work happened until last summer, this may be an attempt to "reboot" the whole process. Attitudes to urban road building have changed noticeably in the past ten years, so it seems sensible to talk to the public again at this stage. I would encourage anyone with an interest in the scheme, any users of the road and any local public representatives to go to the event and make their views known.

10 Jul 2017: In my last update 8 months ago (see below) I noted that what was then TransportNI (now DFI Roads - another name change!) were going to appoint a consultant to progress the development of this scheme and according to a report in the Derry Journal we have confirmation that that has indeed happened. The plan still seems to be an upgrade of the whole stretch from Pennyburn Roundabout to the border, presumably dual-carriageway from the Skeoge Link to the border but otherwise four lane single-carriageway. The DFI spokesperson quoted added that "It is anticipated that the Draft Statutory Orders could be published in 2019 which is likely to lead to a public inquiry". The "draft statutory orders" can only be produced once there's a finalised design, so to achieve that DFI would need to actively carry out design work over the next couple of years. It seems likely to me that the design work will be re-done since it's almost ten years since the previous "preferred route" was announced back in 2009 and both the traffic situation and road design policy have evolved since then. I get the impression that this scheme is moving its way up the priority queue.

14 Nov 2016: Nothing has happened on this scheme for almost eight years. The last development was the announcement of the preferred route in February 2009, an online upgrade. The Minister's has commented on the scheme in response to a Written Question (AQW 243/16-21) last week. He said that "I am delighted to confirm that, as part of the Stimulus Package Funding announced last month, I have secured funding as to resume the development work on the Buncrana Road improvement scheme" (though note that this is the second time work has "resumed" in the past three years; see previous update). He went on to say "I expect that my Department will appoint an engineering consultant to assist with the development of the scheme in the coming weeks." This is a more concrete development. He then went on to say "The next step in the development process will be to complete the preliminary design work, including reviewing the junction strategy. On completion of the preliminary design works the Department will publish the draft statutory orders and Environmental Statement which will be subject to a public consultation". Given that it's been almost 8 years since the preferred route was announced, and that public opinion on large-scale urban road widening has changed perceptively even in that timeframe, my feeling is that TransportNI may decide to go back to first principles and re-visit the preferred route. It could be that an online widening of Buncrana Road to a four lane single-carriageway may no longer be the most appropriate option. The comment about "junction strategy" is interesting - the 2009 preferred route analysis showed that the junctions on the upgraded road could actually be less safe than on the current road, so that's a significant point. The fact that the Minister has pushed this scheme back out of the slush pile reinforces the strong impression that he very much favours road schemes in the North West.

8 Dec 2013: It has been over three years since my last update, because practically nothing has happened on this scheme since the preferred route was announced in February 2009. However, in their most recent report to Derry City Council (2 Dec 2013), the DRD provide an update. In this they say that "work has recently resumed to complete the preliminary design and assessment of the scheme" although adding that "there are no plans to proceed to publication draft statutory orders." This means that while they've resumed work on the design they don't intend to proceed to a public inquiry any time soon (this is what the 'draft statutory orders' are for). This suggests that DRD does not regard this scheme is a high priority, because the public inquiry process and its follow-up can take about two years, and is required before a project can proceed to construction. Therefore I would not expect to see this scheme being constructed within the next 5 years, and possibly longer.

2 May 2010: Nothing new has been published about the scheme since last year. However, the cost being given from the scheme has been revised up from £40m-50m to the range £45m-60m.

12 Feb 2009: Two days ago the Regional Development Minister announced the preferred route for the scheme. The planners have opted for an online upgrade of the entire route. Pennyburn to Skeoge will be widened to a four lane single-carriageway (two lanes each way separated by a white line). Skeoge to the border will be widened to a dual-carriageway (two lanes each way separated by a barrier). The exact effect this will have on properties is unclear - it may just require land acquisition, but may also require some buildings to be demolished as well. This BBC article outlines some of the concerns that residents had after this announcement.

2 Jan 2009: According to a written answer in the Assembly, the cost of the scheme has risen sharply from its 2005 estimate of £18.3m to an "indicative budget of £40-50m". The information confirms that the scheme is still anticipated to get underway in the 5-10 year timescale.

16 Nov 2008: Roads Service have published a leaflet on the scheme. It confirms the timescale of the project (within 5-10 years) and comments that the preferred route is due to be announced in early 2009. It also includes a map showing that the main question mark on the route is whether to pass to the north or the south of Springtown Industrial Estate. The leaflet also says that the traffic flows on the urban section are now about 20,000 vehicles per day.

18 Mar 2008: A second public consultation exercise will take place on 1, 2 and 3 April 2008. The consultations will take place at Ramada Da Vinci's Hotel, Derry from 5pm to 9pm on 1 April, from 10am to 9pm on 2 April and from 10am to 5pm on 3 April. A public meeting will then take place from 7pm to 9pm on 3 April. All interested parties should be encouraged to participate as this is their main opportunity to air concerns and make comments.


The view north west along Buncrana Road from Upper Galliagh Road in 2004. [Wesley Johnston]

The view north west along A2 Buncrana Road at Enagh, just a few hundred metres inside Northern Ireland, in 2004. [Wesley Johnston]