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 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
Summer 2022 - Anticipated completion (as of Jan 2022)

Cost

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

(of which £220m for phase 1, Dungiven to Drumahoe) as of Mar 2018
(and £200m for phase 2, Drumahow to Gransha) as of Oct 2021

(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

15 May 2022: This is a brief update to note that traffic was switched to the westbound carriageway of the new A6 from Gulf Road junction (Killaloo, west of Claudy) to Tamnaherin Road junction (2 miles from Drumahoe) yesterday (Saturday). This includes Burntollet Bridge where traffic is now using the southern half of the new bridge which was surfaced during April. The northern half of Burntollet Bridge has been closed again, presumably until the dual-carriageway opens fully. This follows a frustrating few days for motorists due to temporary traffic signals at Tamnaherin Road which led to tailbacks up to two miles long at times. Hopefully those are now over. Major works are talking place over the next two weeks at Gulf Road (Killaloo) junction which is getting tied in to the local road network and the new junction between 13th May and 27th May. Once completed, the new overbridge here will be opened to traffic and the junction fully opened (though probably with Give Ways at the onslips until all four lanes of the dual-carriageway open). On the rest of the scheme, there are still long stretches that require a central crash barrier, which is a substantial amount of work that still needs done before opening in the summer. And, no, neither the contractor nor DFI has yet given us any indication of an opening date! I would not expect a date to be publicised until the opening is imminent as neither party has any desire to create a rod for their own back by naming a date well in advance.

22 Apr 2022: The biggest change to the scheme over the past month was the opening of the Dungiven Bypass, albeit with one lane each way and a speed restriction, on 26 March 2022. Given that all westbound traffic has to queue to come off the Bypass at Feeny Road, double back to Dungiven and then turn left towards Derry, this has been a rather underwhelming experience for drivers. However the opening is actually intended to facilitate the closure of the current A6 at the eastern end of the town for final works at Magherabuoy roundabout. The bypass will close again for a short period in the early summer to facilitate further tying-in works but after that will be open permanently. The stretch of the road from Dungiven all the way to Feeny is more or less completed, with the exception of the central crash barrier. This entire stretch could be opened to traffic at any time – provided the contractor could find the 26 km of cones that would be needed to reduce it to one lane in the absence of a crash barrier! Work on bridge structures is now completed except for five places (1) Tamnaherin Road bridge which still needs some work on the verges (2) the second half of Burntollet bridge which received its tarmac during April and is now being finished off (3) Ardmore Road bridge which has yet to be surfaced and is due to be completed around June (4) Killaloo Road [Claudy west] which is expected to open to traffic in June and (5) an accommodation underpass just west of Gortilea Road which is to be completed by early May. All bridges between Gortilea Road and the terminus of the scheme at Dungiven are now complete. When will it all open? The contractor is remaining quiet on this point, but I think it's likely that Claudy to Dungiven will open next, with one lane each way, followed by the final stretch around June or July. All speed and lane restrictions – which are primarily there to protect workers – would be needed until substantial works are completed, again probably early summer. Before we get into photos (all by me on this occasion thanks to my first post-Covid trip to the site!) here are some links to interesting A6 movies posted by others:

  • Aerial movie of the A6 at Dungiven, taken by Benbradagh just after opening on 28 March.
  • Another aerial movie of the A6 at Dungiven, also by Benbradagh, two weeks later on 8 April.
  • A drivers-eye view of a drive along the A6 at Dungiven, the day after opening, on 27 March. Taken by Diarmaid Macfheargail
    Diarmaid Macfheargail.
  • Sub-contractor P.Keenan's footage of asphalt being laid at Burntollet Bridge around 6–8 April. Including some lovely drone footage. Thanks to Paul McCloskey for the link.
  • Worth also checking out Benbradagh's videos more generally as he has posted some then-and-now footage of stretches of the A6.


Pic 1: View taken at Drumahoe on 12 April 2022, with the new Lismacarol roundabout directly behind the camera. The road running left-right in the distance is the former A6 Glenshane Road, now a local road. In the foreground is a new link being built to connect Lismacarol Road (to the left) to the existing Glenshane Road. This is a similar view before works began. [Wesley Johnston]


Pic 2: View looking east towards the new Lismacarol roundabout on 2 April 2022, with the "temporary" terminus of the A6 on the right. In theory the A6 will eventually be extended west over this roundabout on a viaduct to the A2 at Gransha. However I have doubts about whether this will happen in the foreseeable future. [Wesley Johnston]


Pic 3: View north from McKay's accommodation bridge towards the "temporary" terminus of the scheme at Lismacarol roundabout on 12 April 2022. In this view the final lane markings have been added, and the posts for the central crash barrier have been installed. It looks as if the westbound carriageway will reduce to one lane well ahead of the roundabout, leaving a substantial amount of un-used tarmac here. It may be painted with chevrons before opening to reinforce the message that it is not a lane. [Wesley Johnston]


Pic 4: View west from Gortilea Road overbridge (just east of Claudy) on 12 April 2022, showing the road essentially completed save for the central crash barrier. [Wesley Johnston]


Pic 5: View west along the Dungiven Bypass on 12 April 2022 from Magheramore Road overbridge with the Owenrigh river bridge just ahead. The road was open when this was taken, but without a central crash barrier. Note the very lengthy barrier in the foreground designed to prevent vehicles entering the river. The barrier terminus at the bottom right acts like a kind of 'carriage', which gets pushed along the barrier in the event of a collision, reducing the deceleration. [Wesley Johnston]


Pic 6: View east along the Dungiven Bypass from Magheramore Road bridge on 12 April 2022. Again, the road is open here. Note the thousands of saplings on the right. In a few years this cutting will look very different. [Wesley Johnston]


Pic 7: View of Magherabuoy Roundabout at Dungiven on 12 April 2022, with the town behind and to the right of the camera, the new A6 to the right distance and the current A6 towards Glenshane on the top left. The roundabout is now operating as a true roundabout with traffic circulating right around it. [Wesley Johnston]

23 Mar 2022: The biggest change on the scheme in the past month was the opening of the Lismacarol roundabout in Drumahoe (the scheme's western terminus) on 4 March, and the diversion of traffic onto the new A6 from there towards Dungiven. This means traffic is now using the new road from Lismacarol roundabout, over Liberty Glen Bridge and all the way to the end of the "offline" stretch at Tamnaherin Road. If you are not in the area, you can "drive" the route from Drumahoe to Burntollet thanks to this great dashcam footage shot by Diarmaid Macfheargail. Currently the road is open with one lane each way, switching carriageways periodically as the works require it, and with a 40mph speed limit. FP McCann have written an interesting blog piece about the deck pour they did at Liberty Glen bridge last month, highlighting the logistical challenges of a pour that has to be continuous yet needs 104 lorry loads of concrete! Another big change seems to be coming at some point this weekend with the rumoured opening of the Dungiven Bypass (at least for westbound traffic), presumably with the same lane and speed restrictions. It's not certain how much of the new road will open, or whether eastbound traffic will also use the new road, but based on the road markings we are seeing the most likely section is the stretch from the eastern terminus at Magherabuoy Roundabout as far as Feeny Road junction where traffic would then move back onto the existing A6 along Feeny Road. This may explain the construction of a mini roundabout on the existing A6 at the Feeny Road T-junction this week. Then from mid-April access into Dungiven from Magherabuoy Roundabout will be closed off, presumably to allow the completion of the roundabout. From this point, and for a few weeks, A6 traffic will only be able to access the town from the western side. Progress is very advanced along all the scheme, with the final course of blacktop in place along the majority of the scheme, and lane markings in place on long stretches. Much still needs to be done on the central crash barrier, which is mostly unbuilt. However, these works could take place even with live traffic on the road, provided there were lane and speed restricitons. The whole road is still due to open sometime during the spring (so I'm going to say, by the end of May) with the completion of all works by the summer. There is also a marvellous aerial movie of the eastern stretch of the route from Killunaught Road to Dungiven, by the prolific Benbradagh. The photos below are, as usual, arranged from west to east. Thanks again to everyone who takes pictures and movies and makes them freely available to the rest of us.


Pic 1: Work underway on the foundations of the Ervey Road Link at Tamnaherin Road on 22 Mar 2022. The road on the right is Tamnaherin Road, with the bridge carrying the new A6 in the distance. The new A6 subsumes the existing road from here east (to the left here), so the Ervey Road Link is being built parallel to the new road to retain local access. [Polyanne]


Pic 2: View looking west across Burntollet Bridge on 22 Mar 2022. On the left the deck of the southern half of the new bridge seems to be complete and a layer of waterproofing is being added. I would expect to see the road being constructed over this half of the bridge within the next few weeks. Up ahead you can see that all traffic is now using the eastbound carriageway, though the lane markings pointing traffic to turn to the left at the switchover point are still in place which is rather confusing, especially in the dark. [Arthur Ming]


Pic 3: The DFI Minister Nichola Mallon has been understandably keen to visit various sites prior to the (presumed) end of her tenure after the upcoming election. Here she is seen at Ballyhanedin Road bridge east of Claudy with Juan Rodriguez-Altonaga Martinez (Contracts Manager) and Michael Troughton (Project Director) representing the Contractor Joint Venture of Sacyr, Wills Bros Ltd and Somague. 2 Mar 2022. This view shows the road surface complete, lane markings in place with the central crash barrier apparently all that is needed. However this stretch is not yet open to traffic, with all traffic currently using the old road, visible on the right. [DFI]


Pic 4: View west from Munreery Road bridge on 20 Mar 2022, showing a stretch which is a little less advanced with lane markings ending ahead. Although the central crash barrier has yet to be built, safety barriers on the left and right are in place, as are a lot of new trees. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 5: View west from Killunaught Road bridge on 20 Mar 2022, with Ovil Hill cutting ahead. At this location the westbound carriageway has been completed. It is possible that this part of the road will be opened to traffic in the next month or so, with all traffic using one of the two carriageways. However the contractor has not said anything about this possibility or the timing so this is my conjecture. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 6: Aerial view of the A6 west of Feeny Road on 21 Mar 2022 showing what looks like three brand-new distance signs erected in a field beside the new road. Presumably they are being stored here as they are not visible from the road at this location. The new signage will finally reveal the B-number that the old downgraded A6 is going to get! [Benbradagh]


Pic 7: Aerial view of the new Feeny Road junction on 21 Mar 2022, looking east. Work is underway here in earnest, possibly in preparation for the expected opening of the Dungiven Bypass stretch as far as here this coming weekend (by 27 March). If traffic ends up leaving the new road here, some more work would need done to the sliproads prior to the opening. [Benbradagh]


Pic 8: The completed River Roe bridge near Dungiven seen on 21 Mar 2022 with all but the central barrier in place. Under the bridge you can see two accommodation laneways under construction, one on each bank. The bridge also seems to be sporting some kind of brown fencing on the south side which looks permanent. It's not clear to me what this is – perhaps an acoustic barrier or some kind of wind breaker? [Benbradagh]


Pic 9: View west along the Dungiven Bypass on 17 Mar 2022 from Priory Lane overbridge, showing the road completed other than the central crash barrier. Traffic is likely to be on this road within the next week. [Paul McCloskey]


Pic 10: Aerial view of the perpetual building site which is Magherabuoy Roundabout, Dungiven on 21 Mar 2022, with the new road heading off to the upper left. A lot of work always seems to be going on here, but not an awful lot seems to change from week to week. This suggests that a lot of relatively small-scale, but time-consuming works are being required here. In mid April the access into Dungiven (upper right) will be temporarily closed to facilitate the completion of the roundabout. [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