A6 Dualling Dungiven to Londonderry

 

Status
Construction scheme (current)
Contractor
Sacyr, Wills Bros and Somague consortium
Scheme
New high-quality dual-carriageway to replace the existing single-carriageway A6 from Dungiven to Drumahoe, including a bypass around the south side of Dungiven (Phase 1) and then from Drumahoe to the A2 at Gransha, and an upgrade of the existing A2 dual-carriageway from Caw to Maydown (Phase 2).
Total Length
30.0 km / 18.8 miles
Dates

Mar 2005 - Pilot study to select route from Castledawson to Derry announced.

Dec 2005 - Funding announced to build section from Dungiven to Derry.

Feb 2007 - Preliminary route corridor selected.

May 2008 - Five route options published.

6 May 2009 - Preferred route announced.

14 Dec 2011 - Draft legal documents published.
Jan 2012 - Public exhibitions.

24 Sep 2012 to 2 Oct 2012 - Public Inquiry held.

ca End Mar 2013 - Inspector submitted Public Inquiry report.

24 Feb 2016 - Departmental Statement published.

21 Feb 2017 - Construction tender released.

15 Aug 2017 - Vesting Order "made".
28 Mar 2018 - Contract awarded for Dungiven to Drumahoe section (phase 1).

(changed from "after 2015" as of Jan 2011, and "early 2013" as of Jul 2010).

26 Sep 2018 - Sod-cutting ceremony
Spring 2022 - Anticipated completion

Cost

£390-420m (as of Nov 2014) for whole scheme

(of which £220m for phase 1, Dungiven to Drumahoe) as of Mar 2018

(Changed from £230-255m for phase 1 as of Nov 2014; £350-390m as of Mar 2011; £320-390m as of Dec 2009; £320m as of Dec 2008 £300m as of Jun 2008 and £250 million as of 2005)

See Also

General area map.
Contractor's web site on scheme

DFI web site on scheme - very detailed information and reports.

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

This major project was first announced on 13 December 2005 by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Peter Hain as part of a larger investment package for the city of Derry, and work got underway in 2018. It will see a dual-carriageway bypass of Dungiven town and dualling of the existing A6 from there to the A2 on the north-eastern periphery of Derry city. The road will be build to a high quality with two lanes each way, no breaks in the central barrier and fully grade separated junctions (ie flyovers). Plans announced in 2004 for a single-carriageway bypass of Dungiven at a cost of £11.1m were subsumed by this much larger scheme, although the preliminary work done was still useful. The map below shows the section of the A6 affected by this upgrade:

Route

The chosen route closely follows the existing A6, but generally off to one side apart from an onlien section around Burntollet. At the Derry end it heads inland and bypasses Drumahoe well to the north, terminating on the A2 at Caw. At the eastern end it bypasses Dungiven to the south.

Strip Junction Map

This is a strip map of the design that was published in May 2009, and is still correct as of the updated design published in February 2016. Note that the design may change between this map and construction due to the evolution of the design, and the public inquiry.


WEST

Begins on A2 dual-carriageway, Derry

2+2 lanes

STRADREAGH
or GRANSHA

 

A2 Clooney

Road

(into Derry)

 Local access  

 A2 Clooney

 Road

 (to Limavady)


5.3 km / 3.3 miles - 2+2 lanes

LISMACAROL ROUNDABOUT
(DRUMAHOE)

A?? Glenshane

Road

(existing A6)

(into Derry).

 Tirbracken

 Road

 
2.8 km / 1.7 miles - 2+2 lanes

TAMNAHERIN ROAD

(THE CROSS)

 

Local access

Local access

 Tamnaherin

 Road


2.0 km / 1.2 miles - 2+2 lanes

ARDMORE ROAD
(BURNTOLLET)

Westbound access only.

 

 Faughan River

 Ardmore Road

.

 Burntollet

 Bridge

 

.

 
2.5 km / 1.6 miles - 2+2 lanes

KILLALOO

(GULF ROAD)

B74 Glenshane

Road

(Claudy west)

 Gulf Road
 

2.5 km / 1.5 miles - 2+2 lanes

BARANAILT ROAD
(
CLAUDY) 

B69 Baranailt

Road (into

Claudy)

 B69 Baranailt

 Road (towards

 Limavady)

 
13.0 km / 8.1 miles - 2+2 lanes

FEENY ROAD

(DUNGIVEN WEST)

B74 Feeny

Road

 B74 Feeny

 Road (into

 Dungiven)


2.5 km / 1.6 miles - 2+2 lanes

MAGHERABUOY ROUNDABOUT
(DUNGIVEN EAST)

 

 B? Glenshane

 Road

 (existing A6;

 into Dungiven)

 Local access

 

EAST

Terminates as single-carriageway
A6 towards Belfast

1 lane each way

Updates

29 Aug 2021: In the previous update one week ago (see below) I focused on the beam lift at Burntollet. In this update I look at the remainder of the scheme, with grateful thanks to Paul McCloskey and Benbradagh. Progress continues to be excellent with long stretches of the road within a few months of completion. Neither the contractor nor DFI has given any dates, but I would not be at all surprised if at least some of the road is open to traffic before Christmas. The main obstacles preventing the much-anticipated Dungiven Bypass stretch from opening soon are the unfinished River Roe bridge and the unfinished Magherabuoy roundabout. However both are progressing apace. Work is still continuing on several bridges: Liberty Glen (near Drumahow), Burntollet, Ardmore Road, Killaloo Road, Munreery Road, Killunaught Road, Owenbeg river and River Roe. All the other bridges are completed. From the point of view of the travelling public, the main point of note is the severe congestion that is being reguarly caused by the construction of Magherabuoy roundabout on the eastern side of Dungiven.


Pic 1: View of the "new" Baranailt Road being constructed beneath the Claudy underpass on 23 Aug 2021. This view is looking south. All A6 traffic is currently driving across the new bridge. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 2: View east from Gortilea Road bridge (i.e. with Claudy behind the camera and Foreglen ahead) on 22 Aug 2021. The drainage channels are completed and the first layer of tarmac down, though the road has yet to get a central barrier and a second (wearing) course of tarmac. Note the new trees planted on the left. The future westbound carriageway is currently in use to store spoil. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 3: Same location as pic 2, but moving about 50 metres to the right, this is a new flood attenuation pond near Gortilea Road on 22 Aug 2021. These ponds store runoff from the road during heavy rain and release it slowly, so as to avoid overwhelming local watercourses. They allow time for particles (such as tiny bits of rubber) to settle out and not enter the watercourses. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 4: View east from the recently-completed Ballyhanedin Road overbridge on 22 Aug 2021. At this point the future central reservation has been surfaced with either concrete or some kind of gravel (it is hard to tell which from here). Again, this stretch just needs a final course of tarmac and a crash barrier, plus signage, and could then be opened. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 5: View of the completed Ballyhanedin Road bridge, seen looking east on 19 Aug 2021. The bridge is now open to traffic. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 6: Looking east from around Crock na Brock Road (about 1 km from Foreglen) with the Ovil Hill cutting in the distance on 21 Aug 2021. Progress here is similar to pic 4, with a layer of gravel occupying the future central reservation. More trees have been planted on the left here and fencing seems to be in place too. [Paul McCloskey]



Pic 7: View west from Feeny Road bridge on 15 Aug 2021, showing work underway on the future eastbound offslip to this junction (the kink in the drainage channel is the deceleation lane, and then the offslip is heading off to the bottom right). Work here is a bit less advanced than elsewhere because the section in the foreground could not be built until the Feeny Road flyover was opened. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 8: View west from the Magheramore Road bridge showing another stretch of the Dungiven Bypass as it crosses the Owenrigh river. Like Feeny Road, the section in the foreground could not be built until the Magheramore Road flyover was opened. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 9: Aerial shot of the River Roe bridge near Dungiven on 23 Aug 2021. Since the beams were installed work has been underway to add shuttering between and over the beams, and steel reinforcement is being added across the entire deck. Once this is completed a "diaphragm" will be built above each set of pillars/abutments to tie the beams together. After this there will be a concrete pour to form a bridge deck on top of which the road will be built. [Benbradagh]


Pic 10: Unusual vertical perspective on the western abutment of the River Roe bridge, seen on 23 Aug 2021. You can see the eight beams resting on the abutments. The hollow with the two yellow-clad workers will be filled with concrete to form the diaphragm, which will serve to hold the beams together. The abutment itself will be in-filled with earth/gravel (or, if weight is an issue, polystyrene blocks) and the road built on top. You an also clearly see the shuttering between each beam and covering the hollow top of each beam. The shuttering will eventually be buried under the road deck, forming its base. [Benbradagh]


Pic 11: Side view of the River Roe bridge on 23 Aug 2021. Construction rules mean that contractors are no longer permitted to put machinery into watercourses, so the vegetation along the river is so far unaffected by the bridge works. You can see that the western abutment (on the left) has already been filled in, whereas this has yet to be done on the eastern side. [Benbradagh]

22 Aug 2021: This is a brief update to draw attention to two recent events - firstly, the installation of the beams on the second half of the new bridge at Burntollet, and secondly the opening of Ballyhanedin Road overbridge. First, at Burntollet, six steel bridge beams were brought to the site in stages in early 2021 from Victor Buyck's construction site in Belgium. Once they arrived here they were then connected together to form three pairs of beams. Each pair is 80 metres long, 6 metres wide, 3.4 metres high and weighs around 270 tonnes. The lift coincided with poor weather, and two were craned into position by a mobile crane in the week of 2 August while the last was put in place on 9 August. The lift is shown in the images below. Also shown is the Burntollet Woodland Trust accommodation bridge. This is a wooden structure that sits beneath the main Burntollet bridge and will allow pedestrian access along woodland paths on both sides of the river. I had thought that this smaller bridge would not be put in place until the Burntollet bridge was completed, but the contractor seems to have chosen to put it in place ahead of the beam lift, presumably for ease of access. This is another milestone - it means that all bridge beams for the scheme are now in place, so well done to the contractor. At Ballyhanedin Road overbridge (a side road that passes over the new dual-carriageway between Claudy and Foreglen) the bridge was opened to traffic on or around 19 August. With thanks to Paul McCloskey for spotting this. Paul has also shared a number of pictures along the scheme today, which I don't have time to share here, but you can see them on his Twitter feed. There are rumours that part of the scheme (particularly the stretch including the Dungiven Bypass and possibly as far as Claudy) may open to traffic before the end of 2021. This has NOT been stated by the contractor or DFI, so remains a rumour. However the degree of progress being made means that it is quite plausible.


Pic 1: The final pair of beams being craned into position at Burntollet Bridge on 9 August 2021. It is hard to get a sense of scale here, but the height of each beam is about the same as two adults standing on top of each other! [DFI]


Pic 2: Underneath view of the three pairs of beams on 9 August 2021. You can see here the bracing that was welded between each pair to hold them together. On the left you can see the beam pairs that were put in place last year for the first half of this bridge. Also visible under the main beams is the Burntollet Woodland Trust accommodation bridge, which was also craned into place in the last few weeks. Although it looks like a steel bridge, it's actually made of timber. The abutments for this pedestrian bridge partly re-use the abutments for the original 1950s bridge that used to stand at this spot. [DFI]

25 Jul 2021: This update is entirely with grateful thanks to the amazing Benbradagh Dji who continues to tweet fantastic aerial images and to share movies of the scheme. Thanks are also owed to Paul McCloskey, probably the most prolific photographer and commentator on the scheme, who is well worth a follow for regular updates and photos from the ground. Anyway, the 16 photos that follow are all arranged in order from west (Derry) to east (Dungiven). The scheme now only has about nine months to run so we are definitely in the final straight. I’d expect to see traffic switching into more stretches of the new road in the coming months though as yet we have no dates for this.

Benbradagh has also shared an extended aerial movie of the entire scheme starting at Dungiven end and working west. It is available in four sections, at these links:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaAtBm6ITW4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAsvTZQbxNM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYIU0cZJZhc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcKZ3I9ebw0


Pic 1: The “temporary” terminus of the scheme at Lismacarol Road, Drumahoe on 16 July 2021. The new roundabout is completed, but at the minute is set up as a rather odd T-junction which will probably remain in place until the new link road (going off at an angle to the bottom right) is opened. Also visible is the new park-and-ride site, also completed. [Benbradagh]


Pic 2: Liberty Glen bridge (near the Belfray Inn) seen looking south-east on 16 July 2021. Since its beams were installed, shuttering has been placed between them and work is now underway to cast the deck itself. Just beyond the bridge you can see two laybys taking shape. [Benbradagh]


Pic 3: View, looking east, of the future Tamnaherin Road junction on 16 July 2021. The flyover – which is at ground level – has been completed, and work now seems to be underway to excavate the cutting beneath it. The roundabout on the right will connect the cutting to the westbound sliproads (top), a local access lane (right) and the existing A6 Glenshane Road (bottom arm of the roundabout). Traffic is using a temporary road on the left which will be removed, though the upper portion of it in this shot will later be re-used as part of the Ervey Road link, which will preserve local access from here to Burntollet. [Benbradagh]


Pic 4: The Oaks accommodation bridge looking close to completion on 16 July 2021, with tarmac now laid over it. Traffic apparently started to use it on 2 July, though I have not had this confirmed. The future A6 beneath the bridge is also very advanced – typical of much of the scheme now – with tarmac and drainage in place though no central crash barrier as yet. The new road follows the path of the existing A6. The road on the left in this shot, being used by all A6 traffic for now, is the new Ervey Link Road whose role is to preserve local access on the stretch from Tamnaherin Road to Burntollet. [Benbradagh]


Pic 5: This shot, looking east towards Burntollet on 16 July 2021, illustrates why this is the most confined point on the whole scheme, with protected woodland on both sides of the road and a river valley on the right. It shows quite a collection of roads. The future dual-carriageway is obvious, as is the new Ervey Road Link Road on the bottom left. The road running diagonally from the bottom left is a temporary road that allows A6 traffic to get back onto the A6. It will eventually be closed and removed and the embankment rebuilt. Finally, the narrower road above the temporary link is a local access laneway. [Benbradagh]


Pic 6: Fantastic aerial shot of Burntollet bridge on 16 July 2021. At this point the northern half of the bridge (on the left) is open and in use. The old 1950s bridge was demolished in recent weeks, although in this shot it looks as if part of the bridge deck is still in place over the river. It’s not clear what we’re seeing here, so I could be wrong! However, what is clear is that the two abutments for the southern half of the new bridge are now in place, and the huge set of still bridge beam pairs on the right shows that we are ready for another beam lift, which is currently scheduled to take place on Monday, 2 August (thanks to Fred Fisher for this). Once completed, a small pedestrian bridge will be built beneath the main bridge, for a woodland path. On the right you can also see Ardmore Road bridge with the deck completed. To its left a series of culverts is being built below the future Ardmore Road. This may be to provide an additional route for water during flood events. [Benbradagh]


Pic 7: Killaloo Road junction (Gulf Road) west of Claudy seen looking east on 16 July 2021 with its abutments and central piers in place. A few days after this picture was taken beams were lifted into place first on the southern half of the bridge (on the right here) and then on the northern half, with ten beams in total. This was the last bridge on the scheme to get beams (not counting the second half of Burntollet bridge). Esther Harper tweeted some images of the beams on 21 July. [Benbradagh]


Pic 8: Claudy junction (Baranailt Road) seen looking west on 16 July 2021, with Claudy off to the left. The excavation of the cutting is now complete and the new road being built under the bridge. Work on the westbound sliproads (on the right here) is also well advanced. We should see Baranailt Road re-opened here before too long, hopefully before the end of the summer. You can still see part of the old A6 on the right. It will eventually be “narrowed” to become an agricultural access lane. The future Claudy park-and-ride site can also be seen at the upper left. [Benbradagh]


Pic 9: Ballyhanedin Road bridge open and in use on 16 July 2021. The new dual-carriageway along this stretch was less advanced than in other places on the scheme, but as you can see here a lot of progress has been made with tarmac is place here too. You can see the original line of Ballyhanedin Road at the bottom of the image, as well as two new flood attenuation ponds. These are designed to hold water during heavy rain and release it slowly so as not to overwhelm local watercourses. You can also see two sets of culverts. [Benbradagh]


Pic 10: Munreery bridge seen looking east on 16 July 2021, with the bridge deck under construction. This bridge will preserve access for local landowners, and involves the construction of a 2.5 km access lane parallel to the new road, visible on the right here. The S-shaped road on the left is probably a temporary road for construction traffic as it does not appear on the designs for the new road. [Benbradagh]


Pic 11: Moving east now past Foreglen village and past Ovil cutting, this is Killunaught Road overbridge seen looking east on 16 July 2021. Like Munreery, this bridge too is still at the stage of having its bridge deck constructed. This road has been closed for some time, and DFI advise that the contractor is aiming to open the road over the new bridge on 1 October, so still two months to go. [Benbradagh]


Pic 12: Looking east towards the Owenbeg river bridge west of Dungiven on 16 July 2021. The bridge appears to be completed now, with the deck in place and construction of the new road itself apparently underway on either side. [Benbradagh]


Pic 13: View east of Feeny Road grade-separated junction at Dungiven on 16 July 2021. The junction appears close to completion with the bridge open and in use and the two sliproad pairs well advanced. On the right you can see a new entranceway for a local laneway. This doesn’t appear on the plans for the scheme so must be a late change. At the top of the photograph you can see a new concrete agricultural access lane. [Benbradagh]


Pic 14: Magheramore Road bridge, Dungiven, seen on 16 July 2021. The temporary road bypassing the bridge has now been partially removed (evident in the grass on the left) and the new dual-carriageway is being completed at the point where it crossed. In the foreground is the Owenrigh river bridge, which has been completed for some time. [Benbradagh]


Pic 15: The River Roe bridge at Dungiven seen on 16 July 2021. This was the scene of a major beam lift last month and since then work has been continuing on the deck. Concrete shuttering has been placed in the gaps between the beams. The next stage will be to fit a network of concrete reinforcement bars and then to cast the concrete deck. The eastern abutment (at the top) has been filled in but the western abutment (at the bottom) has yet to be done. [Benbradagh]


Pic 16: Magherabuoy roundabout, the terminus of the scheme east of Dungiven, seen on 16 July 2021. The shape of the new roundabout is now clear. The new access road for Tracys Way and Abbeyfields is seen under construction. A similar new access for Magherabuoy Terrace, seen at the top right, opened to traffic on 21 June (thanks to Paul McCloskey for spotting this). [Benbradagh]

27 Jun 2021: The past month has seen fewer 'major' events on the scheme - such as beam lifts - but work has still been continuing at good speed. The only particular point of note is that the old 1950s bridge at Burntollet, which carried the main A6 until last year, was demolished between 12 and 13 June. This was the first pre-stressed concrete bridge in Northern Ireland, and would have lasted many years longer had it not been made redundant by this scheme. The contractor has recently published a short newsletter outlining some of the recent work and some other articles of interest, which you can see by clicking here. The newsletter enumerates progress in a good way:

  • 90% of drainage on the dual-carriageway has been completed.
  • 90% of excavations completed and 14 of the 22 structures (bridges) completed.
  • 70% of the base courses of the road surface (Cement Bound Granular Mixture or CBGM).
  • 50% of the pavement on the main dual-carriageway (what road users would think of as 'the tarmac').

The photos below are arranged in order from west (Derry end) to east (Dungiven end) and are with grateful thanks to Benbradagh and Paul McCloskey.


Pic 1: View east from Gortilea Road overbridge, which is now open, showing substantial progress on the mainline here with drainage channels on either side, surfacing down on the eastbound carriageway and tree planting on the embankment. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 2: View east from the existing A6 towards Ballyhanedin overbridge, which is substantially complete but not yet open, on 21 June 2021. Beneath it, progress is well underway on the new road itself with more surfacing down. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 3: View west from above Foreglen village on 10 June 2021, showing a very well-advanced dual-carriageway on the left, with the existing A6 on the right. The road running left-right in the foreground is Crock-na-brock Road which will be permanently severed. In the distance you can just see Munreery overbridge, which serves a handful of local properties and is not yet completed. Ballyhanedin Road bridge is just out of shot at the top of the frame. [Benbradagh]


Pic 4: Aerial view of Altagarron Road, as it passes under the new dual-carriageway, on 10 June 2021. This road has been open for some time now, and links to Foreglen village, visible here. Again you can see that the surfacing on this stretch of the new road is very advanced. This shot also shows three centuries of roads - the 19th century road serving all the houses, its 20th century replacement to the right, and its 21st century replacement still under construction! Altagarron Road itself is probably 19th century. [Benbradagh]


Pic 5: Aerial view of Ovil Hill cutting, east of Foreglen, on 10 June 2021, once again with the road very well advanced through it. This enormous cutting was the source of much of the stone used elsewhere on the scheme. At the minute it is rather a conspicuous scar on the landscape, but in time it will be grassed over and perhaps even grow trees. [Benbradagh]


Pic 6: Aerial view of Killunaught Road overbridge under construction on 10 June 2021, with the current A6 on the right. [Benbradagh]


Pic 7: Aerial view of the temporary 'tarmac' batching plant at Dernaflaw, a few hundred metres east of the previous shot. This plant manufactures all the 'tarmac' needed for the scheme. You can see a new layby taking shape on the new dual-carriageway too. 10 June 2021 [Benbradagh]


Pic 8: View east from Feeny Road bridge, Dungiven, on 21 June 2021. This bridge is now open to traffic, affording a grandstand view of the works, in this case the future eastbound offslip/onslip loop, with an accommodation laneway visible beyond. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 9: Magheramore Road bridge, Dungiven, complete and in use on 13 June 2021. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 10: The River Roe bridge, near Dungiven, which gots its beams during May, seen here on 10 June 2021. Work is underway to place the shuttering between the beams in order to construct the deck above. The large crane was still sitting at the site this week, though it's not clear why. [Benbradagh]


Pic 11: This final shot shows the site of the terminal roundabout at Magherabuoy, Dungiven on 25 June 2021. The new road heads off to the bottom of the image. The dark road left of centre is the new entrance road to Tracys Way and Abbeyfields. This link must be completed before the original entrance is removed to make way for the roundabout. The circle of the roundabout is starting to appear in this shot. [Benbradagh]

Older updates can be found in the archive.

Background to Scheme

The Regional Strategic Transport Plan, published in 2004, explained why it was thought that further dualling of the 40km of the A6 beyond Castledawson could not go ahead before 2015:

B3.3.41 When the funding envisaged by RTS is extended to 2015, there would be £529.4m available for Strategic Road Improvements in the RSTN TP period. However, this is fully taken up by the high priority SRIs proposed across the RSTN, including the £171.9m envisaged for SRI schemes on routes serving the North-West. Therefore, within the funding assumptions of this Plan, it would not be realistic to expect that further dualling of the A6 could be undertaken within the Plan period (apart from the Randalstown to Castledawson section already proposed). B3.3.42 However, further dualling of the A6 will be required outside the RSTN Plan period, in order to develop and upgrade the link between Northern Ireland’s two largest cities by 2025. Therefore, during the Plan period it will be necessary to plan the route of a dual carriageway between Castledawson and Derry, by undertaking a route selection study. This will inform the decision regarding the acquisition of land and route protection lines, e.g. for the Dungiven Bypass.

This lack of funding was rectified suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly in December 2005 by the announcement of sufficient funding for the Dungiven to Derry section. Prophetically, the RSTN did comment that "It is... likely that future dualling in the 2015 to 2025 period will commence at the Londonderry end of the route." This is because traffic levels are highest at the Toome and Derry ends of the A6, and lowest at the Glenshane Pass and because of the difficult terrain crossing the Sperrins. Traffic figures collected in 2004 showed the following daily traffic at various points on the A6:

  • Toome - 21160 vehicles
  • Castledawson - 14880 vehicles
  • Ranaghan (Glenshane Pass) - 10470 vehicles
  • Western edge of Dungiven - 13820 vehicles
  • Altnagelvin, Londonderry - 12930 vehicles
  • Rossdowney, Londonderry - 26930 vehicles

Thanks to Diarmaid Elder for the traffic information on this page