A4 Enniskillen Southern Bypass


Construction scheme (future)
To connect the A4 on each side of Enniskillen by building a bypass to 2+1 standard to the south of the town.
Total Length
2.0 km / 1.3 miles

Jul 2006 - Proposed in "Expanding the SRI Programme" document

Apr 2008 - Scheme given go-ahead to enter planning

27 Jul 2011 - Preferred route corridor announced
9 June 2014 - Scheme granted Gateway 0 approval (ie, it passes its strategic assessment)

17 June 2015 - Public exhibition of referred route (the "Stage 2 Assessment")
12 Apr 2018 - Public consultation held

Jan 2022 - Advanced site works began

20 Feb 2024 - Scheme given funding by Executive
30 April 2024 - Scheme went out to tender
Late spring/early summer 2025 - Construction to begin (as of Feb 2024)
Expected completion - circa end 2026

35m as of Dec 2023 (changed from 25-30m as of Aug 2023; changed from 30-35m as of June 2018; 19.2m-31.9m for inner route as of July 2011; changed from 18m as of 2006.)
Partly funded (12.5m) from Mid South West Region Growth Deal
See Also

Official web site on scheme - DFI Roads

General area map - Google Maps

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

Enniskillen remains a bottleneck for long distance traffic on the Belfast <> Sligo route because all traffic must use the A4 Enniskillen Throughpass which was opened in 1986. While a big improvement over going through the town centre, this still involves going close to the heart of the busy town where strategic traffic has to mingle with local traffic and this delays both groups of users.

This scheme would see the main A4 route diverted to the south of the town. The road, as currently proposed, would be built to 2+1 standard (ie one lane each way plus an alternating overtaking lane) and extend from the A4 Dublin Road at the eastern side of the town, terminating on the A509 Derrylin Road at the western side of the town (which will likely become the A4 for a short distance). The road will have to cross the Erne, and the bridge will be a significant structure. A smaller bridge will be needed to cross the Sillees river. DFI estimates that it will take 40% of the traffic on the A4 out of Enniskillen town centre.


The map below showing the approximate route. It would seem likely that the existing road through the town centre would lose the "A4" label, and that this number would be reassigned to the Southern Bypass.


8 May 2024: The construction tender for the Enniskillen Bypass was released on 30 April just about in April! so we now have a cash allocation and a construction tender, so things are looking very good for this scheme. The deadline for submission is a month from now 3 June 2024. The process of tender award will take several months after which the contractor will need time to ramp up. Assuming no last minute headaches, we should see work get underway around this time next year. The duration of the tender is given as 20 months, which suggests the total construction period. If that is accurate, then we'd see the road completed by the end of 2026.

17 Apr 2024: The construction tender for this scheme is due to be released some time in the next two weeks. But today DFI launched a survey asking people what kind of "additional benefits or social value" they would like to see. This is relevant because the tender will be the first one that will include an assessment based on the contractor's contribution to social value, as well as the usual technical and financial considerations. Presumably the idea is that this will encourage contractors to include more social elements to the construction period, for example local employment, reduced carbon emissions, community events etc. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. Construction is due to begin around this time next year.

21 Feb 2024: The restoration of Stormont earlier this month has brought an unexpected quick win for this scheme. The DFI minister yesterday announced that he has allocated funding to allow this scheme to proceed to tender and then construction. The total cost of the scheme is estimated at 35m. The newly allocated money has come from two sources 16.2 million of capital funding has been allocated by the Executive, to be spent partly in the next financial year 2024-25 and partly in the 2025-26 financial year. As I said in the previous update below, DFI had been hoping for funding to come via a possible future Mid South West Region Growth Deal. It now seems that 12.5m has been made available as an 'advance payment' from this Deal, even though the Deal hasn't yet been agreed or signed. Securing this suggests a great willingness to proceed as early as possible. The eagle eyed will spot that this doesn't add up to 35m, but remember firstly that the money needed now is purely for construction, as other costs such as land acquisition (which took place in 2021) and planning have already been incurred. DFI has already approved the scheme for construction, so the next step is to put the scheme out to tender, which will happen in April this year. This process can take the best part of a year, so we should see a contractor appointed and work to get underway in "late spring/early summer 2025". No timescale has been given for completion, but I would estimate somewhere around two years. So I think we are as certain as we can be that this scheme will now go ahead next year.

13 Dec 2023: In their most recent report to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, DFI noted that advanced site works are continuing, which is encouraging. These are NIE cable diversionary works which were underway in the spring (see photos below on 28 April). These are nearing completion and should be done before the end of this month. DFI are also preparing contract documents for such times as funding is provided for construction. There is no money currently, though it does seem that DFI is hoping for funding to come via a possible future Mid South West Region Growth Deal - so the timescale is still vague. DFI also seem to have made up their mind on the total cost for the scheme, having quoted figures ranging from 25 to 35m at various points since 2018. This report gives the cost firmly at 35m.

18 Aug 2023: DFI Roads this week released a document showing how the current roads programme will be prioritised in the current economic and legislative climate, where DFI is now required to de-carbonise transport. The Enniskillen Bypass made the cut, though the main question mark remains over funding. It seems that DFI is anticipating that funding will come from New Deal funding from the UK government, which depends on a possible future Mid South West Region Growth Deal. Since neither of these has, as yet, happened, the project will remain on hold for now. Interestingly, DFI is giving the cost of the road as 25-30m at 2019 prices, which is less than the 30-35m being quoted in 2018. DFI vested the lands for the road in August 2021, and advanced site works (mostly vegetation clearance, service relocation and fencing) took place in early 2022. At that time it was expected that work would get underway fairly soon, but this has not happened due to the financial situation and the collapse of Stormont. Recent news reports suggested that funding that had been due to come to the scheme has been reallocated by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, but with the UK government seemingly making up Indirect Rule as it goes along, it's hard to verify this. It is possible that some further vegetation clearance will be required if construction is delayed by a few more years. For now, we can't give a timescale, but I would not expect anything new in the next year or two.

28 Apr 2023: This week has seen a bit of work on the A4 Belfast Road at the point where the new Bypass is planned to begin. The works seem to involve removing the overhead power lines and relocating them underground, which is presumably one of the advanced pieces of work that would be needed before construction as they would be in the way of the works. At the same time, there is still no sign of funding for the scheme so we are unlikely to see much further happen in the next couple of years. With thanks to James Love for this information and the photo below.

Work underway on the A4 Belfast Road close to the entrance to Castle Coole on 27 April 2023, showing works underway to relocate cabling underground. [James Love]

4 Jan 2023: Despite preliminary site works having taken place this time last year, in the absence of a functioning Executive, and with a draft budget that does not provide any funding for this scheme before 2025, I don't think we have any choice but to regard this scheme as being "on hold" until at least 2025. So I don't expect much more to happen in the next couple of years. As with the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass, the only things that might change this would be if the Executive was restored in the interim (may or may not happen), or if a budget was set from Westminster which somehow funded this scheme (unlikely in the current climate).

24 Aug 2022: In a press release earlier this month, the new DFI Minister announced that he has instructed his staff to prepare the tender documents for the Enniskillen Bypass scheme "as a priority during 2022/23". The scheme had already been planned to go out to tender in this financial year, but the problem is not lack of will but money! As noted in the previous update (below) even if there was a functioning Executive it is unlikely that funding will be available for this scheme in the next 3 years. That said, it does reinforce my impression that this scheme along with the A1 Junctions Phase 2 scheme are the two that are now "top of the pile" at DFI once the A5 and A6 are taken out.

8 Jul 2022: As confirmed in a recent Written Answer the lack of an Executive means that the three year budget 2022-25 cannot be agreed and therefore there is no funding to move to construction of this scheme. The scheme is otherwise ready to go to tender having completed all the statutory processes, land has been vested and vegetation has been cleared. At the same time, the draft budget was not good for DFI anyway lacking even sufficient funds for the committed schemes - so even if it was agreed it is unlikely that funding would have been available for the Enniskillen Bypass over the next three years anyway. The only hope at this point would be if another major project (cough cough A5 cough cough) was delayed again which might free up some funds that could end up getting reallocated to the A4. But other than that, the near future of this scheme isn't looking that good.

2 Mar 2022: Below are two photographs taken in mid February showing preliminary works on the Bypass underway. The photographer wishes to remain anonymous, but thank you. You can see both the new fencing around the vested area and clearance of vegetation along the route. Vegetation clearance needs to happen outside the bird nesting season. The next step will be to release the main construction tender. However with the current problems at Stormont it may not be possible to release the tender without the planned budget in place. This raises the possibility that the Enniskillen Bypass could reach the point of having all its advance site works complete but then be unable to proceed to construction due to the Stormont situation. This is an issue for local political representatives to watch closely.

View east along the route of the future A4 Enniskillen Bypass from near the Sillees river, at the western end of the project. The light-coloured fencing on the left and right marks the extent of the vested land, while there is evidence of vegetation cutting in the foreground. 14 Feb 2022. [Anonymous contributor]
View along the future A4 towards the
View east along the future A4 Enniskillen Bypass from about a third of the way along (when coming from the western end). Ahead is the river Erne. The bypass will run along on an embankment on the low land to the right of the river here. Again, the white fencing visible in the foreground delineates the vested land. 14 Feb 2022. [Anonymous contributor]

13 Feb 2022: As anticipated, 2m advanced site works for the Enniskillen Bypass started during the week of 17 January and are due to last until late March. The contractor is P. Keenan Quarries. They include vegetation clearance (typically done ahead of the nesting season), fencing of vested land and NIE electricity diversions (removing cabling that would conflict with construction work, and relocating it to a safe place). It has been widely welcomed by people in Fermanagh. The scheme is due to go out to tender very soon (still listed to out to tender by the end of March 2022) but it's not clear to me whether the new dis-functionality of the Executive or the forthcoming Assembly election will have any bearing on this.

16 Jan 2022: In a press release in early December, DFI commented that "We will also commence advance works on the Enniskillen bypass this year [presumably meaning the 2021-22 financial year, so by April 2022] following the making of the Statutory Orders earlier this year." The main project has not yet gone out to tender. Advanced works typically include things like archaeological investigations, vegetation clearance and fencing of vested land. If you live in the area and spot any work along these lines taking place in the coming months please do let me know.

21 Dec 2021: The scheme did not go out to tender in the autumn, and the Investment Strategy for NI web site is now estimating March 2022 for procurement. It feels like this date just gets pushed forward every few months and doesn't really mean anything. However, one thing that does give some hope that we are heading for construction was this press release on 2 Dec 2021 about an update meeting between DFI and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council. It states "We will also commence advance works on the Enniskillen bypass this year following the making of the Statutory Orders earlier this year". It is not clear what works this refers to, but advance works typically include things like archaeological investigations and vegetation clearance. "This year" may refer to the financial year, rather than the calendar year, so I assume this means by April 2022.

25 Jul 2021: As expected after the previous update (below) DFI has now gone ahead and made the legal orders for the scheme. You can see the main one here. They appear to come into effect on 11 or 12 August, in just under three weeks' time. This will also be the point at which the necessary land passes into DFI ownership, which will trigger a process of payments to the affected landowners, which is overseen by an independent body. Really all we are waiting for now is for a tendering process, which could get underway in the autumn, and for the Executive to give funding to the scheme at which point it could potentially proceed directly to construction in 2023.

14 Jun 2021: The DFI Minister announced last month her "intention to proceed" with this scheme. This is a formal process that DFI must go through in order to progress to the next step, which will be formally making the legal orders, vesting the land and then proceeding to appoint a contractor. At this stage they have published their Departmental Statement, which is a relatively short document summarising the planning steps that have happened so far, and setting out their decision to proceed. It also sets out the legal orders that they will make at a future date. These are the Direction Order (which gives DFI permission to build a new trunk road), the Vesting Order (which will compel landowners to sell the required land to DFI) and three other bridge/river orders which are required when building roads over navigable waterways. This step doesn't really change much in real terms, but what it does tell us is that this scheme is definitely on DFI's radar for construction. This is relevant because the recent delay to the A5 upgrade will free up some cash over the next year or so, and my feeling is that this is one of three schemes that could benefit (the others being the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass and the A1 junctions Phase 2). So I think this is the DFI Minister positioning the scheme should this happen. Construction getting underway by late 2021 is no longer on the cards (see previous update below) but the Investment Strategy for NI web site is now indicating this scheme to go out to tender by September 2021, which would lead to construction commencing 18 months later, by March 2023. The ISNI is notorious for kicking dates down the road but it at least agrees that it could be soon.

12 Jun 2020: Nine months ago (below) I reported that this scheme seemed to moving closer to construction, perhaps as early as late 2021. 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 Enniskillen Bypass. 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 Enniskillen Bypass. So I would read this as the Minister saying that she does not have the funds to construct the Bypass in the near future, but that she does regard it as one of the schemes she hopes to progress once the "flagship" projects have been progressed further.

14 Oct 2019: This update is to share two interesting points about the A4 Enniskillen Bypass. Firstly, according to the most recent report to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, DFI received "very few" objections to the proposals so they have decided that a public inquiry is not necessary. This is very unusual in my experience, as practically every major road scheme has an inquiry. The lack of objections coming after a lot of publicity last year indicates that it has broad local support. So the scheme has moved to the next stage of development, which would presumably be the making of the statutory orders and then preparing for tender. Of course, the scheme currently has no budget allocation so that is where it will remain unless this changes. With that in mind, the Investment Strategy Northern Ireland web site has been updated. Previously the tender process for this scheme was down to commence in late 2019. This has now been shifted by a year to late 2020 with a tender value of 20-25m. Nevertheless, most road schemes are listed as "2023 or after", which implies that this is one scheme that DFI would quite like to progress sooner rather than later. How procurement will happen without an Executive to approve the spend isn't clear, but as this is a very uncontroversial scheme it could be that a senior Civil Servant would feel comfortable approving it. So something for both Enniskillen residents and civils contractors to keep an eye on!

23 Jun 2018: The Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland Pipeline contains an entry suggesting that this scheme is to go out to tender in the final quarter of 2019 with a total project cost of 30-35m. While it is possible to go out to tender without a funding allocation (as has happened with York Street Interchange, for example) this still suggests that a funding allocation is anticipated around 2020. If the scheme did go out to tender on that timeframe it would mean a contractor being appointed in the second half of 2020 and, if money was available, construction commencing shortly afterwards. Without a functioning Executive it's hard to put much certainty in this sort of thing but what we CAN deduce is that this scheme is regarded as a high priority once the current flagship projects are underway (A5, A6, York Street). The only other non-flagship schemes that seem to be operating to this timescale are the A24 Ballynahinch Bypass and the A1 Junctions Phase 2 project.

8 May 2018: If you missed the public consultation event on 12 April, the exhibition boards are now online here. These essentially outline the progress to date as we are now pretty much at a final design. The material gives a total scheme cost of 30m, but stops short of providing an estimated date of construction. This suggests that there is a great deal of uncertainty around funding for the scheme, which is understandable given that we have no functioning Executive. DFI have also put up a very interesting flythrough video on Vimeo - accessible here. It consists of a computer-generated movie starting on the A509 at the western end, before joining the new bypass and travelling to the eastern terminus on the A4 near the Killyhevlin.

3 Apr 2018: Almost three years since the announcement of the preferred route, DFI are holding a public consultation event on 12 April 2018 from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm in the Waterways Ireland offices at Sligo Road, Enniskillen. Strictly speaking the public consultation is on three draft legal orders the Vesting Order (which sets out the land that DFI are going to buy to build the road), the Direction Order (which gives DFI permission to build a new trunk road and stop up some existing roads) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (the biggest document, which sets out DFI's argument for building the road and assesses its environmental impact). However, from the public's point of view it is a more an opportunity to see what is proposed and give feedback and opinions to the engineers working on the scheme. The route is unchanged from 2015, but a much more detailed map of the route has been posted on DFI's web site here. It indicates that the road is to be single-carriageway but featuring two stretches of 2+1 overtaking lanes, one in each direction. The works also seem to involve localised widening of the A509 Derrylin Road from the Sligo Road to where it will join the new bypass. This short section of the A509 is likely to be re-numbered as part of the A4 once the road is completed. The document includes two computer-generated images of the eastern terminus of the proposed bypass near the Killyhevlin Hotel, which I reproduce below.

Computer generated view of the terminus of the proposed bypass seen looking east towards the existing A4, with the Killyhevlin off frame to the top right. It shows the proposed layout, namely a single-carriageway with 2+1 overtaking lanes at either end. [DFI image from here]

Computer generated view of the proposed bridge over the River Erne with the exisring A4 on the left and the Killyhevlin off frame to the top. In 2013 Fermanagh Council suggested a number of "landmark" designs for this bridge, including a box girder bridge designed to be reminiscent of the former railway bridge nearby, but this appears to be a slender concrete arch bridge. [DFI image from here]

14 Nov 2016: In response to a Written Question (AQW 5213/16-21) in the Assembly on 26 October the Minister gave slightly more detail than he did earlier in the month. Referring to the preparation of the Environmental Statement and the draft statutory orders (basically, the various legal documents that they have to produce in order to proceed to a likely public inquiry) the Minister said "consultants have recently been appointed to assist my Department in taking the project through this stage". He then went on to say "I hope to be in a position to announce the publication of the draft Orders and Environmental Statement in mid 2017". He did not give any committments beyond this, ie did not commit to providing funding to build the road on any particular timescale, instead just saying that at that point it will "be considered for funding, along with other existing and proposed schemes elsewhere in the north of Ireland". I would not read this in a negative way however - this is the position of any scheme that hasn't got funding yet, so it merely a statement of reality.

23 Oct 2016: The DRD Minister briefly commented on this scheme in the Assembly on 4 October. He said "Work is ongoing to prepare the environmental statement and the draft statutory orders. It is anticipated that those will be published in 2017, which may lead to a public inquiry". This sounds a bit more certain than the language used in May (where he said "possibly early in 2017"). Enniskillen is one of two bypasses that the Minister has specifically mentioned by name (eg at the very bottom of this press release) which allows me to tentatively suggest that this scheme has at least earned the sympathy of the Minister, which bodes well. We have to be careful about the "public inquiry" comment. Once draft orders are published they usually go out to consultation and this will take some time. After that, depending on the comments, a public inquiry may be called but there's no requirement to do this in a particualr timeframe so we can't really say anything about when that might happen. Lack of money will be an issue for the next few years since the Executive is prioritising the flagship projects on the A5 and A6.

2 May 2016: The DRD Minister issued a press release about this scheme back on 25 February. This is a good example of a press release that sounds really good despite saying very little of substance. I struggled to find anything concrete in it, and the best I can do is the comment that "TransportNI is now in the process of appointing engineering consultants to assist in taking forward the production and publication of the Environmental Statement and the draft Statutory Orders" and then, at the end, the comment that these "could be in place early next year". This suggests that the DRD are continuing their design work and are going to be publishing the draft "Statutory Orders", possibly early in 2017. The "Statutory Orders" are the legal documents needed to build a road - these consist of the "Environmental Statement" (which sets out why they think the road is worth building), the "Direction Order" (which gives the DRD permission to build a new trunk road) and the "Vesting Order" (which compels landowners to sell the land needed to build it). They are kept in a draft form until after the public inquiry and, in the case of the Vesting Ooder, are not activated until shortly before construction begins. So basically what we can glean from this press release is that we "might" have these draft legal orders early in 2017. However, speaking in the Assembly a few weeks before this press release the Minister was less optimistic saying "Further progression of the project, through the statutory procedures to construction, are dependent on the availability of finance. Should finance become available, it would take around 18 months to two years before work could start. So it is still some time off".

28 Jun 2015: The DRD have now published their preferred route, which was revealed at a public exhibition on 17 June which approximately 120 people attended. You can download a copy of the leaflet here, but I have included my own map showing the approximate route above. The dates given on the DRD web site suggest that this preferred route was finalised and agreed over a year ago in March 2014, but has only just been published. The route is similar to the route corridor publicised in 2008 (see below), except that it has been decided at the western end to terminate the road at a new roundabout on the A509 Derrylin Road rather than extending it all the way to the western A4. This makes sense since the A509 is itself a strategic road and links to the A4 at a roundabout. Since the new bypass will likely steal the "A4" number from the current route through Enniskillen, I would also assume that the short stretch of A509 between the end of the roundabout and the existing A4 will be re-numbered as part of the A4. At the eastern end the road will begin at a new roundabout just to the north of the Killyhevlin Hotel. This location was chosen partly because it gives the shortest available crossing of the Erne river. West of the Erne crossing, the road hugs the line of some trees, but without passing through them, mirroring the line of some existing high voltage power cables. It would be built to a high standard single-carriageway standard with one lane each way, plus a section of overtaking lane at either end. This is known as a "2+1" configuration. There will be just one intermediate standard T-junction, to provide access to farmland. While T-junctions that permit right turns are not usually provided on new roads these days, this one is unlikely to be a problem as the amount of turning traffic is likely to be extremely low. The road will be equipped with a segregated cycleway along the north side. The design suggests that segregated cycleways will also be provided along the A4 into Enniskillen at the eastern (Killyhevlin) end, and on the connecting section of the A509 at the western end. The local Impartial Reporter has an article on the scheme where it gives a total cost as 30m-36m, although I have not seen this figure verified anywhere. The article also outlines some concerns by local landowners, specifically the Killyhevlin Hotel. Finally, it goes without saying that there is currently no money to build this scheme - see my assessment of the timescale in the previous update below.

10 Jun 2015: The DRD Minister announced yesterday that the preferred route for this scheme had been decided. However, neither the press release nor the DRD web site can tell us what the preferred route actually is! However, there is to be a public exhibition on 17 June in the Ardhowen Theatre. No times are given in the press release, so I'd suggest phoning the Ardhowen before setting out to make sure it is open. The text of the press release suggests that the route will not be dissimilar to the map shown above, except that the final bit connecting the A4 and A509 at the very western end seems to have been dropped. We'll find out more information next week when the exhibition happens. In the Assembly about six weeks ago, the Minister was asked about this scheme and he gave some other useful comments. He said "With modest funding in 2015-16, the scheme could be advanced to draft order stage. That would be the notice of intention to make the direction and vesting orders and the publication of the environmental statement. That would facilitate holding a public inquiry in 2016, if required, and possibly making the direction order in 2016. Thereafter, the delivery of the bypass would be dependent on the availability of finance. In the event that capital funding becomes available, the bypass could commence in 2017, with construction taking approximately 20 months to complete. Landowner consultations have been ongoing, and the project is being reasonably well received." I would treat these dates with a great deal of caution - there are a lot of "coulds" and "possibles" here. A public inquiry in 2016 certainly seems plausible, but a construction start date of 2017 seems highly unlikely given the speed these things move, the current state of finances and the number of other competing schemes, especially the A5 and York Street Interchange schemes.

18 Dec 2014: The Minister confirmed in the Assembly that the work to decide the preferred route of the Enniskillen Bypass is nearly complete and will be announced "early in the new year". This will be done in the form of a public exhibition, presumably somewhere in Enniskillen, which I will publicise as soon as we hear where and when it is to be held. The minister does, however, caution that the progression of the scheme beyond this point will be "subject to finance". And I have to say, the future of finance for road schemes in the province currently looks bleak as departments face ever deeper budget cuts.

13 Oct 2014: As stated in previous updates (see below) the Minister has previously indicated that the "preferred route" for the Enniskillen Bypass will be announced before the end of 2014. In a Question for Written Answer in the Assembly, the Minister said "The Stage 2 report identifying the preferred alignment will be complete in late 2014. At that point I hope to be in a position to announce the publication of the findings of the report and the emerging preferred route." This sounds a little close to the wire for 2014, so we might be looking at the New Year before we hear something, but it does seem that there will be news before too much longer. There was no mention of his previous speculation about the possibility of having a contractor appointed by mid 2018 (see April 2014 update below) which was probably a bit optimistic (although I would be more than happy to be proved wrong!).

16 Aug 2014: We are getting close to the time when the DRD Minister indicated, back in late March, that the preferred route would be published, but nothing has happened as yet. However the DRD web site has had the cryptic comment "Gateway 0 approved by Transport NI Management Group on 9 June 2014" added beside this scheme. "Gateway 0" means that the scheme has passed a strategic assessment. In laymans language, this means that the early work on the scheme has shown that it would be worth building and has now been approved in principle. It also means that the DRD will now proceed to develop more detailed options. This ties in nicely with the anticipated publication of the preferred route, so if there has been no change of plan I would expect to see some sort of announcement before the end of the year.

10 Apr 2014: In a Question for Written Answer in the Assembly two weeks ago, the Minister was asked about this scheme. He then elaborated in the Assembly a few days ago. The preferred route corridor was announced three years ago in July 2011, and he said that the more precisely-defined "preferred route" will be announced "mid to late 2014". He went on to confirm that, as we know, the scheme currently has no funding allocation for construction, so it's impossible to say for sure when it might actually be built. However he did present a timescale of sorts by saying that there would be "potentially, a public inquiry, which could commence as early as 2016" and thereafter "if everything were to go well, we would be looking at procurement and possibly a contractor in place by mid-2018." It's always risky for Ministers to say things like this, so I would tend not to put too much significance on this date, but instead to treat this as the minimum timescale, ie it will not happen before mid 2018. Finally, he gave a cost estimate of 20-30m, which is essentially unchanged from the estimate given in July 2011.

28 May 2013: As far as I can tell, very little has happened on this scheme since the last update in 2011. That has not prevented Fermanagh District Council, who are fierce champions of this scheme, from working away on their own ideas for the scheme. Last week the Impartial Reporter reported that the Council has published some suggested designs for the Erne Bridge section of the bypass, which they estimate to cost between 8.4m and 11.6m. One is shown below. The Council describes it as important to take forward a major capital project to provide a "positive legacy" for hosting the G8 this June, even going so far as to suggest calling it the "G8 Bridge". Since the Bypass is a project being taken forward by the Department for Regional Development, not Fermanagh District Council, these proposals are really nothing more than the council's suggestions, rather than being actual proposals from the project's engineers. In addition, the scheme is still at an early stage and is quite low down on the DRD's list of priority, so construction is likely to be many years away yet, long after the G8 has passed into the pages of history. (Note: towards the end the article says that the "bridge" is estimated to cost 19.2 to 31.9 million, but this actually the cost that the DRD have estimated for construction of the whole bypass, not the bridge element on its own.) With thanks to Bens33 for alerting me to this news article.

One of Fermanagh District Council's proposed designs for the Erne bridge, this one being a rather imposing box girder structure.

12 Aug 2011: The previous update linked to the State 1 Assessment Report which I didn't have time to comment on in late July. It reveals that the planners considered two routes. The one shown on the map above is the originally indicated "inner" route, and it was joined by a second "outer" route further out from the town (south of the Killyhevlin Hotel). In each case there was a "short" version of the route that went from the A4 Dublin Road to the A509, and a "long" version that continued to the A4 Sligo Road. The "outer" route performed poorly in the benefits-cost analysis (ratio of 0.38 for the long option, and 0.82 for the short). As both of these are below 1, it implies that that option would bring fewer benefits than it would cost, mainly because its distance from the town at the eastern end would discourage local traffic from using it. The "inner" route, which begins north of the Kilylhevlin Hotel, performed much better (ratio of 1.43 for the long option, and 2.26 for the short). The planners therefore recommended that only the "inner" route be considered at the next stage of the analysis. Even this option has a couple of possible locations for the major bridge that would be required over the Erne. The document does note that one of these two locations was previously home to a railway bridge (since mostly demolished) and that the new bridge could be built in a similar style as a nod to the past history of the area. The decision as to whether to go with the "short" or the "long" version of the route is still undecided. The A509 currently connects to the A4 Sligo Road via a roundabout, so it would not strike me as a major problem if the Southern Bypass were to stop on the A509 rather than continuing on to the A4. The only disadvantage would be one extra roundabout to navigate, and a significant increase in traffic on the short shared stretch of the A509.

27 July 2011: The preferred route corridor was announced today. I won't be updating the site for the next fortnight and as I don't have enough time tonight to give a proper analysis of the announcement, I recommend you look at the documents here, particularly the Executive Summary. The preferred route is broadly in agreement with the green line on the map above. I will give a more comprehensive update in August. According to the press release a public display of the preferred route to be held "in the Town Hall, the public library and the Roads Service Section Office at Castle Barracks in Enniskillen from Wednesday 27 July up to Wednesday 31 August 2011".

4 Jul 2011: As far as I am aware, the public consultation anticipated for last Autumn did not take place. Instead, the Minister has now said that a public exhibition of the preferred route for the Southern Bypass will take place in Enniskillen "in July 2011", although no actual date, time or venue is given. These exhibitions are often held with only a few days' notice online, so I will keep an eye out for any announcements. The Minister cautions that there is currently no money to actually build this road, so for now it will remain a future plan.

22 November 2009: According to this press release, Roads Service are planning to hold a public consultation event in "Autumn 2010" to reveal the general route corridor (note: not the actual route) that is being proposed for the Southern Bypass. Meanwhile, the Impartial Reporter has published an article reporting that Roads Service are exploring the possibility of introducing a one-way system in the town to ease traffic in the interim, while the Southern Bypass is being planned. (With thanks to Gary Potter).

7 June 2009: At a meeting with Fermanagh District Council two weeks ago, Roads Service confirmed that they have now appointed consultants to commence route selection work. Construction is still unlikely to commence before 2013, and perhaps not until 2018.

24 Nov 2008: Roads Service released a leaflet in October 2008 which includes a map that provides the first indications of the route that is being considered (see below). It does not give any other information on the scheme, other than to confirm that construction is anticipated between 2013 and 2018.

Map of the proposed route of the Enniskillen Southern Bypass as of October 2008.

(Map not exactly to scale; based on Google Earth imagery)


The existing A4 Dublin Road, seen looking south, from opposite the Killyhevlin Hotel in March 2007. This image was taken from the Geograph project collection. See this photograph's page on the Geograph website for the photographer's contact details. The copyright on this image is owned by Kenneth Allen and is licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

The existing A4 Enniskillen Throughpass (here caught early on a Sunday morning in 2002) carries the A4 parallel to the town centre but this route is increasingly congested at peak times. [Photo by Wesley Johnston]

The Erne as seen from the Kilyhevlin Hotel, Enniskillen in 2008. The new road will have to cross the Erne very close to here, probably to the right of this shot. [Wesley Johnston]