A6 Dualling Dungiven to Londonderry - Archive

This page is an archive of older updates from the main A6 Dualling page.

26 Feb 2021: There is now only a little more than a year to go on this three-and-a-half year scheme and progress continues well, and the better weather of the approaching spring will help this. The contractor posted an update on their web site here two weeks ago (though as I write this the site is down for maintenance) which I won't reproduce here, but I will note some significant points before moving on to some photos:

  • Work at Liberty Glen bridge, near the Belfray Inn, is ongoing. The base for the southern/eastern abutment is complete, with work now focused on the northern/western abutment.
  • The Oaks accommodation bridge, which got its bridge beams in December, has now had its diaphragms completed (the structure that holds the beams together) and work on the deck itself is due to happen next.
  • At Burntollet, it is now quite hard to see the old 1950s bridge, but it appears to still be in place. It will need demolished before long. Meanwhile, work is underway on the piling platforms that will eventually form the abutments for the second half of the new bridge.
  • At the nearby Ardmore Road bridge, the abutments are almost complete and the beams will be lifted into place in March. Some of these are already sitting on the site.
  • At the Claudy junction, work on the new bridge is almost complete. A6 traffic had been due to be diverted onto the new bridge today, but this has been deferred by at least a week so that the contractor can complete some outstanding work on the bridge. After this, the existing A6 will be removed in order to excavate the cutting needed to get the northern part of Baranailt Road down under the new bridge. There are a number of photos of this junction below.
  • At Gortilea Road, the contractor has indicated that the embankment to carry Gortilea Road on the south side will be constructed soon. The bridge has sat completed for some months now with nothing much happening.
  • Ballyhanedin Road overbridge also got its bridge beams, in early January, a fact which I missed at the time.
  • At Killunaught Road overbridge, the beams were placed about ten days ago and work is now underway on the deck.
  • At the Owenbeg River bridge, west of Dungiven, the west abutment is being completed and the beams will be placed in March. There was an incident this week when a beam on its way to the A6 scheme, possibly for this bridge, was struck by a motorist who appears to have tried to drive under it as it negotiated Sprucefield roundabout!
  • Although both the Feeny Road and Magheramore Road bridges near Dungiven are structurally complete, a lot of work still has to be done before they can be opened to traffic, namely the construction of the footpaths over the bridges and then the reconstruction of the approach roads on either side and over the bridges themselves. So we may not see this happen for a few weeks yet. It was also announced this week that a park-and-ride facility is to be built for Dungiven at Feeny Road, as a separate project from this one.
  • At the River Roe bridge, south of Dungiven (the least-advanced river bridge) the piling work for the abutments has been completed, and work on the eastern abutment is now to get underway.
  • At the terminus of the scheme in Dungiven, work on Magherabuoy roundabout seems to have gotten underway over the past month, though as yet this has had no impact on traffic on the existing A6.
  • A new aerial movie of the Dungiven Bypass section was uploaded last week by Benbradagh. It begins near Derrychrier Road (visible at 1:00) and thereafter moves east towards Dungiven.

And now some images. As usual these are arranged west to east.

Liberty Glen bridge near the Belfray Inn looking east on 4 Feb 2021 with work focused on the northern abutment. Workers can be seen constructing the steel reinforcement in the foreground, which will eventually be encased in concrete like the one on the other side. [Arthur Ming]

The view west towards Burntollet Bridge (in the distance) on 21 Feb 2021. Work is underway to widen the existing A6 on the right, creating an embankment below the trees. On the left work is underway on a new accommodation laneway. [Alan Lynas]

Large steel bridge beams that have appeared near Gulf Road at the contractor's compound. These are probably for the the second half of the new Burntollet bridge, though I haven't confirmed that. They're being stored here as there is currently nowhere closer to store them. 21 Feb 2021 [Paul McCloskey]

At Claudy junction, this is the "new" Baranailt Road looking north with Claudy behind the camera and the new bridge ahead. This road is not yet open to traffic, but the road to the right in the foreground leads to the current Baranailt Road. This road may come into use when the A6 is diverted over the new bridge in early March. In the distance you can see the west-facing sliproads heading up the hill to the left from the circular pipe segments. To the left of camera, not really visible, work is underway on a new park-and-ride facility. 21 Feb 2021. [Martin Lynch]

Looking up what will be the westbound sliproads to/from the A6 at Claudy on 21 Feb 2021. [Martin Lynch]

View west across the Claudy bridge on 21 Feb 2021. This will eventually carry the entire dual-carriageway, but from early March the section visible here will come into use to carry all A6 traffic on the future westbound carriageway. [Martin Lynch]

View south from the Claudy bridge on 21 Feb 2021. This is the "new" Baranailt Road looking towards Claudy, with the new park-and-ride visible on the right middle distance. The road hasn't been completed closer than shown here because the underpass currently ends at an earthen cliff – the existing A6 must be closed before this can be excavated. In this shot you can clearly see the layers of road construction - gravel base course, asphalt binder course and the asphalt wearing course on top. [Martin Lynch]

Section of the new dual-carriageway near Derrychrier Road on 21 Feb 2021 with the binder course of asphalt laid, but otherwise not much happening. The gap in the foreground is for the future central barrier, while drainage channels can be seen on either side. This shot shows how wide the new road is. [Esther Harper]

Killunaught Road bridge with its six concrete beams in place on 21 Feb 2021. [Esther Harper]

View of the central pillars of the Killunaught Road bridge on 21 Feb 2021. Work is underway here to build the diaphragm above the central pillars, while formwork has been placed between the beams to allow construction of the deck above. [Esther Harper]

Work underway on the terminal roundabout of the scheme at Magherabuoy, Dungiven on 21 Feb 2021 [Paul McCloskey]

1 Feb 2021: There are quite a few photos in this update, and one aerial movie, with thanks to Arthur Ming, Sean Wilson, Esther Harper and Benbragagh. Firstly, I'll link to a great movie of the Dungiven Bypass portion of the scheme by Benbradagh, dating to 16 January. I've written a brief commentary below. The times refer to minutes and seconds in the video. After that, there are a series of photos.

  • 0:00 Starting at the site of the future Magherabuoy roundabout, on the east side of Dungiven and then heading west.
  • 0:19 Priory Lane bridge, with the approach roads on either side now under construction.
  • 0:30 Completed flood attenuation pond visible on the right.
  • 0:40 River Roe bridge still under construction - with the abutments and pillars for the three spans well advanced.
  • 1:20 Magheramore Road bridge, still not open, with the Owenrigh river bridge immediately beyond. From here there is a long stretch with blacktop laid and drainage channels (visible in light grey) in place.
  • 2:22 Feeny Road grade-separated junction taking shape, with the bridge completed and the loop for the westbound on/offslip visible on the left. No work has yet taken place on the eastbound on/offslip (upper right corner) as the temporary route of Feeny Road currently blocks the site, which seems to be in use right now as a spoil heap.
  • 2:36 Kink in kerb line on right reveals the site of the future eastbound offslip.
  • 3:05 Site of the Owenbeg river bridge, the least-advanced structure on the Dungiven Bypass. Some initial work has taken place on the abutments, but the temporary bailey bridge is still in place and little else evident.
  • 3:25 Further area of subsurface now in place with another permanent flood attenuation pond on the left.
  • 4:15 Crossing Derrychrier Road, with the underpass completed and in use. Long agricultural accommodation laneway to the left of the new road.
  • 4:35 Site of future westbound layby, just apparent in the shape of the road base. The large batching plant on the right is a temporary structure that is making tarmac, though the noise and smell is apparently causing quite a nuisance to local residents.
  • 5:15 On this stretch significant earthworks still seem to be underway. Also evident are hundreds of newly-planted trees on either side of the new road.
  • 5:35 Killunaught Road bridge under construction, with the central pillars in place and work on the abutments underway.
  • 5:48 Camera stops, and returns to Dungiven along the same route.
The following photos are, as usual, arranged in order from west to east starting at the Derry end. There is a particular focus this time on the complex works taking place around Burntollet.

Pic 1: View west from McCay's accommodation bridge at Drumahoe, about 1km east of the scheme's starting point at the new Lismacarol Roundabout, Drumahoe. The gravel foundations of the two carriageways are in place here, while the cutting ahead has just been excavated following the closure of a laneway that has now been re-routed across this accommodation bridge. 30 Jan 2021 [Sean Wilson]

Pic 2: View east from McCay's accommodation bridge on 30 Jan 2021, with the site of Liberty Glen bridge - the longest bridge on the scheme - visible as the dip beyond the orange machinery in the distance. Again, both carriageways here are having their gravel foundations laid and graded. There has also been a lot of work planting hundreds of trees on the banks. In ten years' time passing through this cutting will be like driving through woodland. [Sean Wilson]

Pic 3: View of the work underway on Liberty Glen bridge, near the Belfray Inn, on 30 Jan 2021. The eastern abutment appears close to completion, as are the two sets of intermediate piers. The western abutment is less advanced. We're still a bit away from being ready for a beam lift here I think. In the upper left is the same cutting seen in pic 2. [Arthur Ming]

Pic 4: View of The Oaks accommodation bridge, near Burntollet, in the snow on 23 Jan 2021. In my update on 8 December I said that the beams had been lifted on Ardmore Road bridge. This was incorrect, it was actually this bridge that had its beams added, apologies. Believe it or not, the site in the foreground was the existing A6 until traffic was diverted onto a temporary road just a matter of weeks ago. [Sean Wilson]

Pic 5: View of the site of Ardmore Road bridge, taken from the existing stone Oaks Bridge (which will remain in situ) on 29 Jan 2021. Work on both abutments is progressing well and should be ready for a beam lift before too long. This bridge is at a high skew (around 60°) over the River Faughan and is required due to the need to reconstruct both the vertical and horizontal alignment of Ardmore Road. [Sean Wilson]

Pic 6: Close-up of the northern abutment of the Ardmore Road bridge on 29 Jan 2021. The existing A6 can be seen beyond. [Sean Wilson]

Pic 7: View of the southern abutment of Ardmore Road bridge (left) and the existing stone Oaks bridge, as seen from near the northern abutment on 30 Jan 2021. The green fabric protects the River Faughan from runoff from the site. [Arthur Ming]

Pic 8: The first beams for the Ardmore Road bridge arriving on site on 20 Jan 2021. They are located close to the existing stone bridge. [Sean Wilson]

Pic 9: Three steel bridge beams for the Ardmore Road bridge being stored at the site on 30 Jan 2021. They appear to have a slight curvature to them. [Arthur Ming]

Pic 10: Telephoto shot of Burntollet Bridge as seen from near Ardmore Road on 29 Jan 2021. The higher structure, with the red-and-white barriers, is the northern half of the "new" A6 bridge, now carrying all traffic. The smaller bridge to the left is the 1950s A6 bridge, now closed to traffic, and soon to be demolished. The two cars on the right are parked at the former junction of the A6 and Ardmore Road. The entire area visible on the left between Ardmore Road bridge and Burntollet bridge has been cleared as a large construction site. When it comes time to install the beams for the southern half of the new bridge, probably in mid 2021, the massive crane will likely be sited roughly where the orange roller is parked. Eventually the area will be built up onto an embankment to allow Ardmore Road to be reconstructed to meet the new A6 at the same level as the new bridge. A lot still to happen here. [Sean Wilson]

Pic 11: Moving close to Dungiven now, this is the site of the future Owenbeg river bridge seen looking east on 17 Jan 2021, with Feeny Road overbridge visible in the distance. A lot of the work here is still at the earthwork stage, but you can now see vertical steel reinforcement bars on the eastern bank of the river, showing that work on the abutments has now commenced. A brown bailey bridge, giving access over the river for site works, can be seen here too. [Esther Harper]

Pic 12: Same location as previous, but looking west, this shows the base course of tarmac in place here on 17 Jan 2021. The telephoto makes the road appear more undulating than it really is. The white towers in the distance are part of the batching plant that makes the tarmac. [Esther Harper]

Pic 13: Finally, this shot taken on Sunday 31 Jan shows some people taking advantage of the quiet weekend site to race quad bikes on the future dual-carriageway. I would not recommend using a construction site in this way, as there can be many hidden dangers. The bridge pier and abutment visible here are for Killunaught Road overbridge, between Foreglen and Dernaflaw. [Esther Harper]

22 Dec 2020: This is a brief update to report on the significant change at Burntollet, where traffic was switched onto the northern half of the new bridge overnight on 18/19 December. Traffic was also switched onto the future eastbound carriageway from Burntollet all the way to the future Killaloo junction, a distance of about 2.5 km. This marks a significant milestone in this confined part of the scheme. The next step, as summarised in Pic 1 below, will be to demolish the existing 20th century (1950s) bridge and then build the southern half of the new bridge. There are two photos below showing the new layout, taken by Alan Lynas. But before we come to the photos, I need to share links to some superb third party material:

  • Superb drone footage taken by Sky Photography, showing the route from Liberty Glen (near the Belfray) to Burntollet, a few days before the switch-over happened.
  • A series of lovely aerial photos by Aerial Vision NI of the stretch of the A6 from Dungiven to Foreglen.
  • Footage taken from a car by Diarmaid Macfheargail showing Burntollet. The first part of the video is taken travelling towards Derry before the switch-over. The second part of the video is taken travelling towards Belfast after the switch-over and crossing the new bridge, and then travelling about 5 km further east past Killaloo to near Claudy! The smooth vertical alignment of the new Burntollet Bridge means it's easy to miss it in the movie! With thanks to Paul McCloskey for flagging this video.

Pic 1: The stages of work at Burntollet Bridge. We have just completed stage (3). The next phase, which I would expect to see in January 2021, will be stage (4), the demolition of the 1950s bridge.

Pic 2: View of the first half of Burntollet Bridge open and in use on 20 December 2020. This was very fast work, given that the approach embankments were barely started six weeks ago. Well done to the contractor. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 3: Same location as pic 2, but looking towards Derry. All traffic is using the future eastbound carriageway. The old A6 ran where the digger is, and hugging the trees beyond. This line has now been excavated and dropped down in height by a couple of metres in order to give a better vertical alignment for the future westbound carriageway. [Alan Lynas]

8 Dec 2020: In this update there is more material than you can shake a stick at. We have several aerial videos, so many in fact that I am not able to provide a commentary on them this time. After the video links I then include a series of photographs with captions that detail a bit more about what is happening. Thank you to everyone who sends photos; this scheme really has attracted a huge amount of interest. So first, the videos:

Four taken on 22 Nov 2020, by the amazing Benbradagh:
  • Movie 1 – from the east side of Dungiven to Derrychrier Road, west of the town.
  • Movie 2 - from the batching plant at Derrychrier Road, through Ovil Hill cutting, to near Ballyhanedin Road.
  • Movie 3 - from Ballyhanedin Road to just after Baranailt Road, Claudy.
  • Movie 4 - from just west of Baranailt Road, Claudy, past Burntollet, to the terminus of the scheme at Drumahoe.

And a more recent movie taken on 6 Dec 2020, also by Benbradagh:

  • Movie 5 - travelling east from Killunaught Road (near Foreglen, just east of Ovil Hill cutting) to Chapel Road, Dungiven.

Some particular news that is worth highlighting:

  • At Ardmore Road bridge, a side road near Burntollet, beams have been lifted into place over the past week. 2 Feb 2021: Actually the beams were lifted into place at The Oaks accommodation bridge, not Ardmore Road, apologies.
  • Tamnaherin Road, a side road about 2km west of Burntollet, will be closed to traffic at the current A6 from 4 January for 4 months, to allow work to take place on the new bridge for the future junction there.
  • Ballyhanedin Road, on the rural stretch between Foreglen and Claudy, will also be closed to traffic at the current A6 from 4 January, for 6-and-a-half months, to allow work on the new bridge that will carry it over the new road.

And now on to the photographs. As usual, these are arranged in order from the Derry end and moving towards Dungiven.

Pic 1: The "temporary" terminus of the scheme at Drumahoe on 1 Dec 2020. The new Lismacarol roundabout is complete, but not operating as a roundabout yet, with traffic being diverted round one side of it for the time being. The Park-and-Ride is also completed but not yet in use. Some blacktop is also being laid on the future westbound offslip. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 2: Similar view to the previous shot, but moving slightly east to show McCay's accommodation overbridge on 1 Dec 2020, which appears to be completed. The original access laneway is still in place beyond it. The cutting here appears to have been planted with grass and native trees. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 3: It is hard to see progress at Liberty Glen (at the Belfray) from the main road, but this photo on 1 Dec 2020 confirms that work is well underway on what will be the longest bridge on the whole scheme. It will consist of three separate spans with two sets of five intermediate pillars well advanced, and work also underway on the abutments. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 4: This ground-level shot of Liberty Glen bridge was taken on 1 Dec 2020. The person in yellow high-vis shows how tall these pillars are. [Arthur Ming]

Pic 5: This view looking south-east from above Liberty Glen shows earthworks underway on the future dual-carriageway towards the future Tamnaherin Road junction on 1 Dec 2020. The existing A6 here will remain in situ for local access. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 6: The site of the future Tamnaherin Road junction on 1 Dec 2020. All traffic is being diverted round the site while piling takes place for the new underbridge that will carry Tamnaherin Road beneath the new road. In January Tamnaherin Road (going off to the left) will be closed to allow work on the approach cutting. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 7: View east towards Burntollet from Tamnaherin Road on 1 Dec 2020. The earthworks are on the route of the original A6, but all traffic is currently being diverted onto the new Ervery link road, visible on the left here, to allow construction of The Oaks accommodation bridge (the black patch beyond the diggers). [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 8: Burntollet Bridge as seen on 1 Dec 2020, with the deck of the northern half of the new bridge well underway. The word on the street is that this half of the bridge is due to be completed by the end of the year. At this point, traffic will likely to be switched onto it to allow the 1950s bridge to be demolished. On the extreme left you can see one of the abutments for the Ardmore Road bridge over the Faughan River. Since this photo was taken the beams have been placed on this bridge. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 9: View of Burntollet Bridge on 29 Nov 2020, showing that the embankments on either side have been significantly built up over the course of November, to the height needed to construct the road over. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 10: View east from Burntollet on 1 Dec 2020, showing the large cutting that has been needed to widen the road here. The steep drop into the River Faughan on the right shows why the cutting was needed. The future eastbound carriageway has been surfaced for a long distance – traffic could be transferred onto this section of road and over the Burntollet Bridge soon, perhaps by January. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 11: Gulf Road (Killaloo) junction as seen looking east on 1 Dec 2020, with blacktop laid on long stretches into the distance. The pattern of sliproads is clearly evident here, but work on the bridge is not very advanced due to the awkward position of the current A6 here. I suspect the plan here is to divert traffic onto a stretch of the new carriageway here, to allow the other bridge abutment to be built. The existing A6 will remain in situ here, but it will be reduced in width to serve as a minor access road. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 12: Superb aerial shot of the Baranailt Road (Claudy) junction on 1 Dec 2020 showing the largely-completed underbridge, as well as the earthworks for the westbound sliproads in the foreground. From here to Dungiven the existing A6 will remain as a B-classified local road running parallel to the new road. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 13: Gortilea Bridge sitting in splendid isolation on 1 Dec 2020. This photo reveals why nothing much seems to be happening - the area of brown earth to the left of the bridge seems to have vertical drains sticking out of it. That suggests that the ground here has been surcharged with extra material to encourage the soft ground to settle. It will have to remain like this for a period of months until movement stops before the approach embankment can be completed. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 14: The site of the future Ballyhanedin Road overbridge on 1 Dec 2020 (where all the yellow vehicles are). The new A6 runs beside, and at a lower elevation than, the old A6. Ballynahedin Road, which runs at 45° here, will be closed in January until the summer to allow the new bridge and its approach embankment to be completed. Two culverts for a local watercourse are also evident here. [AerialVisionNI]

Not shown in this sequence of photos is Killunaught Road, near Foreglen, where work on the new overbridge also seems to now be underway. It can be seen in Movie 5, linked at the top of this update.

Pic 15: View of the completed Owenrigh River Bridge and the Magheramore Road overbridge on 28 Nov 2020. It looks as if Magheramore Road overbridge is largely completed, so the next step will be to reinstate the road over it and remove the temporary road beside it. The cutting here has been landscaped with grass and trees. Beyond the cutting is the site of the River Roe bridge, seen below. [Les Ross]

Pic 16: A lovely shot of the work underway on the River Roe bridge, near Dungiven, on 28 Nov 2020. This bridge, like the one at Liberty Glen, consists of three spans and is at quite a height above the river on soft ground, hence the huge amount of work needed. The embankment on the far side looks like a ski jump, but this is an illusion! [Les Ross]

15 Nov 2020: Work has progressed very well over the past two months, and continues to attract a lot of interest from the travelling public. There is now only about a year-and-a-half until the scheme is completed, so we are well past the half-way point. Below I present 16 photos with thanks to the prolific Paul McCloskey, as well as the Burntollet reporter-in-situ Alan Lynas - thank you both! - and the DFI. In addition, there are a couple of aerial movies that I link to at appropriate points. The photos are are arranged in order from east (Dungiven end) to west (Derry end).

Pic 1: Work now appears to have begun on Magherabuoy roundabout, which is where the scheme will begin, at the east side of Dungiven. This is the view actross the existing A6 on 8 Nov 2020 towards the site works now underway. You can see an aerial view of the site here – Magherabuoy roundabout being on the right hand side. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 2: Priory Lane, which gives access to Dungiven Priory, is currently closed but will be re-routed over the new bridge. This is the new road under construction on 8 Nov 2020. You can see the bridge in this aerial view, visible by the pink waterproof course on the bridge deck. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 3: Work on the future River Roe bridge, which is a complex structure on challenging ground, underway on 8 Nov 2020 with the western bridge piers and abutments looking close to completion. Work on the eastern piers and abutment is less advanced. We could see a beam lift here before the end of the winter. You can see an aerial view of the bridge here. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 4: Moving west to Magheramore Road, this is the view north-east across a rather waterlogged site beneath Magheramore Road bridge on 8 Nov 2020. The huge cutting here is complete, with some tree planting apparent too, but less work on the new road itself. [Paul McCloskey]

This is a link to an aerial movie of the whole Dungiven Bypass, starting near the (as yet unbuilt) River Owenbeg bridge at 2:50, passing the site of Feeny Road junction at 3:30, the completed Owenrigh river bridge and adjacent Magheramore Road bridge at 4:10, the (under construction) River Roe bridge at 4:40 and reaching the site of the future Magherabuoy roundabout at 5:15. Note how well-advanced the stretch of dual-carriageway between Feeny Road and Magheramore Road is.

Pic 5: View across the top of the Magheramore Road bridge on 8 Nov 2020, with the bridge deck complete, fencing in place and just awaiting the tarmac! [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 6: View west from Magheramore Road on 8 Nov 2020 showing the new road now being constructed over the completed Owenrigh River bridge, and a very well-developed road snaking off into the distance towards Feeny Road. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 7: Moving further west to Feeny Road, this is the view east (back towards Magheramore Road) beneath the new bridge on 8 Nov 2020. This will eventually be a grade-separated junction. Note more tree planting along the banks here. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 8: Derrychrier Road (Lower Ovil Road) finally re-opened to traffic on 12 Nov 2020. This is it on 13 Nov 2020, with work on the new road evident above. Local resident Esther Harper took a movie of her first drive through it. The length of the underpass (which runs at a skew) bears witness to the width of the new dual-carriageway above. [DFI]

Pic 9: Altagarron Road underpass, near Foreglen, opened to traffic during October. This view was taken on 17 Oct 2020. The bridge at Killunaught Road (half way between Derrychrier Road and Altagarron Road) is not due to open until summer 2021. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 10: Work on Ballyhanedin Road bridge continues at a slow pace, with a bit more work evident on the northern abutment (on the left) since September. This is the view on 8 Nov 2020. A kilometres west of here is Gortilea Road bridge which is completed but not open. The contractor has said that they plan to open the road and bridge in the spring of 2021. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 11: View east along the existing A6 towards the new bridge at Baranailt Road, Claudy, on 8 Nov 2020. The new dual-carriageway will run on the right, a couple of metres higher than the current road, which will be retained only as far as the house on the left, for local access. To get a better idea of the progress on this junction see this aerial movie, with thanks to Sky Photography. Baranailt Road into Claudy is currently closed for reconstruction (at around 1:00 in the video) but is scheduled to reopen at the end of April 2021. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 12: Between Baranailt Road and Killaloo junction motorists have a grandstand view of work on the future dual-carriageway adjacent to the current road, which will be retained for local access. This view is looking east on 8 Nov 2020 showing work well advanced with blacktop in place on long stretches. This is also evident from 2:15 in this movie. Very impressive work here. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 13: Not much has changed at the future Killaloo junction (Gulf Road at Claudy west) on 8 Nov 2020. The southern abutment and central piers are in place, but further work will require traffic to be moved away from the existing road. Gulf Road is due to re-open in autumn 2021, a year from now. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 14: View looking east along the new road not far from Brackfield Bawn, just east of Burntollet on 26 Oct 2020. This shows the new cutting straight ahead, with multiple gullies evident, probably caused by recent heavy rain. It will take time for vegetation to stabilise the soil here. At its base is the future eastbound carriageway with blacktop in place, while all traffic is currently on the old road, in the foreground. Presumably traffic will be moved onto the new stretch of road soon to allow the old road to be reconstructed to become the westbound carriageway. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 15: Three months on from the beam-lift at Burntollet bridge, work has progressed on the deck with concrete being poured during October. This view was taken on 15 Nov 2020. Once the deck is completed, the embankments will need built up at either side to allow the road to be built over the top. Once traffic is using this part of the new bridge, the old bridge (on the right) will be demolished and work will begin on the second half of the bridge. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 16: View west from Burntollet on 15 Nov 2020 – all traffic continues to use the temporary road visible here. Meanwhile the old A6 has now been completely removed as part of work to form the base of the new road. Ardmore Road, which is off-camera to the left here, will be closed at this point on 25 November for twelve months, to allow cosntruction of the new Ardmore Road bridge (at The Oaks). [Alan Lynas]

I have no photos of the Tamnaherin Road or Derry end of the scheme, but the park-and-ride at Drumahoe is now complete and just awaiting a bus service. Work will presumably also begin soon at Liberty Glen, if it has not already done so, as it is the largest bridge structure on the whole scheme.

25 Sep 2020: Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the sod-cutting ceremony that started the scheme in 2018. With only 18 months left to go, we are now well past the half-way mark and much progress continues to be made. Unfortunately the YouTube aerial videos that I linked to in the previous update (below, 18 Aug) are no longer available, which is a shame. Nevertheless, we have a whole series of photos once again, thanks to Andrew Bratton, Dee Logue, Alan Lynas, Paul McCloskey and Polyanne. Thank you once again. The photos are, as always, arranged in order from Derry towards Dungiven. In other news, the project received another £14.8m of funding (from the COVID emergency fund!) this week. As the project crosses multiple financial years, a budget allocation is needed every year to keep the project funding, though once the contract has been signed such funding is really a given. The contractor has indicated that traffic may be moved onto sections of the new road before Christmas, which would be an exciting moment.

Pic 1: The new park-and-ride facility at Drumahoe very close to completion, as seen on 15 September 2020. The facility will probably open soon, along with the new Lismacarol roundabout on Tirbracken Road. The branding suggests Ulsterbus Goldliners will stop there. [Andrew Bratton]

Pic 2: During the weekend of 18 to 21 September 2020 work was carried out to construct the future alignment of Tirbracken Road, which will lead traffic leaving Derry directly to the new Lismacarol roundabout. This is a line of road surfacing plant machinery waiting to be used on the Saturday of the works, beside the existing Tirbracken Road. [Dee Logue]

Pic 3: Another view of the realignment works taking place on the A6 at Drumahoe on Sunday, 20 September 2020 with surfacing works well underway. The original A6 curves to the right, whereas in the future it will run along the new line straight ahead. Traffic will still use the old alignment for the time being, but will be diverted along here once the new road opens. This is the same view before work began. [Andrew Bratton]

Pic 4: Panorama of the site of the future flyover at Tamnaherin Road on 15 September 2020. The previous landscape here has been completely obliterated, but basically the original A6 ran left-right across the site, with Tamnaherin Road running from roughly where the photographer is standing to join the A6 at a T-junction. Currently all traffic is being diverted around the site on a temporary loop of road behind the camera. The two white sites mark the locations of the two abutments. Piling for these has since begun, as captured in a video by Polyanne on 23 September. [Polyanne]

Pic 5: Since the beam lift at Burntollet six weeks ago, much work has taken place to join the six steel beams together to form the base for the bridge deck. Taken on 9 September 2020. The plan is to complete this half of the bridge, build the approach embankments and divert all traffic onto it, probably in the first half of 2021. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 6: View east towards Killaloo junction (Gulf Road, for Claudy west) on 20 September 2020. The south abutment and central piers have been built, but no work has yet started on the north abutment as the existing A6 is currently occupying the site. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 7: View looking west towards the completed bridge that will carry the new dual-carriageway over Baranailt Road, Claudy on 20 September 2020. The embankment being formed ahead is for both the new road and the westbound sliproad loop which will curve round to join Baranailt Road just to the left here. The patio chair on the right is a nice touch. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 8: Gortilea Road bridge, seen looking across the existing A6 on 6 September 2020. Nothing much has happened here since the bridge was completed in July. At some point a large embankment needs to be built at the far side to allow Gortilea Road (visible going up the hill in a straight line, a feature typical of 18th century roads) to be connected and reopened. The future road will run under the new bridge at a lower elevation. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 9: About 2 km east of Gortilea Road bridge is Ballyhanedin Road Bridge, seen here looking east on 20 September 2020. Not a lot has happened here either, with the central piers built, and both abutments underway. A lot of earthworks are, however, evident in the distance. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 10: This is Altagarran Road underpass as it was on 13 September 2020, now completed but with Altagarran Road still not reopened to traffic. The embankment for the future A6 has now been constructed here, showing how high it rises above the existing landscape at this point. This is the same view before work began. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 11: View east towards Feeny Road overbridge on 13 September 2020. The bridge appears to be largely completed, with the foundations of the dual-carriageway itself now taking shape below it. Traffic may be diverted onto this bridge during the autumn. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 12: View west towards Magheramore Road overbridge, near Dungiven, on 20 September 2020. Taken from the "old" Teeavan Road, which has now been diverted to make way for the enormous cutting that can be seen here. This is the same view before work began. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 13: View from Magheramore Road near Dungiven on 20 September 2020 showing the completed Owenrigh river bridge, sporting its shiny new red waterproofing layer. The alignment of the future road is taking shape beyond. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 14: View looking west from near Beech Green Lane, Dungiven, on 20 September 2020. The white crane visible right of centre is working on the abutments of the future River Roe bridge. It has yet to receive its bridge beams. Magheramore Road bridge can just be seen in the distance. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 15: Looking east from near Beech Green Lane, Dungiven, on 20 September 2020, showing the largely-completed Priory Lane overbridge beyond the cutting. Traffic has yet to be diverted onto this bridge too. [Paul McCloskey]

18 Aug 2020: This update is in two parts. In the first we focus on the spectacular beam lift that took place at Burntollet last weekend (15-16 August). In the second we look at a set of five aerial drone movies of the ENTIRE scheme that were recently put up by Benbradagh. I've written a commentary to go with them.

So firstly, the beam lift at Burntollet required two pairs of steel beams, each 84 metres long and weighing 280 tonnes, to be craned into place over the Burntollet river. It required one of the largest mobile cranes in Ireland, the Liebherr LR 1600/2, to be assembled on the site during the week before. Each lift took about five hours, so the first one was done on Saturday 15th August, and the second one the following day. Hundreds of motorists got to see it first hand as it required a closure of one lane of the A6, and the ensuing queues allowed people the opportunity to see 280 tonnes of steel suspended in mid air. Several people sent me photographs - thank you all so much - and I can't include them all here but I've included a few below which illustrate particular points. However, I would specifically encourage you to watch two YouTube videos. The first was taken by a drone by the manufacturer of the steel beams, Victor Buyck. The second is a time-lapse movie of the Sunday lift taken by Sean Wilson. A similar beam lift will take place early in 2021 for the second half of the new bridge.

Be sure to scroll down below the photos as they are followed by a commentary on the aerial movies of the rest of the scheme.

Pic 1: Maps showing the overall plan at Burntollet Bridge. Due to the need to keep A6 traffic moving the bridge is being built in two halves. The beam lift that took place last weekend is part of phase (3) on this plan.

Pic 2: The lift of the first pair of beams underway on Saturday 15 August. Both the workers and car owners are showing great confidence in the crane! The pair of beams weighs 280 tonnes. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 3: First beam pair being gently lowered onto the bridge abutment on Saturday 15 August. [Anon]

Pic 4: Next day, Sunday 16 August, this is the second pair of beams being swung into place. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 5: Workers dwarfed by the two pairs of beams resting on their mountings in the afternoon of Sunday 16 August. Each beam is 5 metres deep. The existing A6 can be seen beyond. [Sean Wilson]

Pic 6: Job done! The two pairs of beams in place on the evening of 16 August. This view also illustrates how much higher the new bridge will be than the existing (20th century) bridge. The next step is to build the bridge deck, divert traffic onto it, demolish the old bridge and then construct the second half of the new bridge to the left here - at which point the crane will return! [Alan Lynas]

Stuff has been going on at the rest of the scheme too. I don't have time tonight to prep any more photos, but have a look in particular at recent tweets by Paul McCloskey, Polly Lynch and Esther Harper who often share images. However, the following is a commentary on five wonderful aerial drone movies put up by Benbradagh (thank you!). They were taken at the start of August. I've included a link to each video at the start of each section of commentary.
Part 1
00:00 Starting at Glenshane Road, just east of Dungiven, the site of the future Magherabuoy roundabout. A strip of tarmac has been laid on the new road here, possibly to give access to the sites of the Roe river and Priory Lane bridges up ahead.
0:16 Priory Lane overbridge very advanced, but with the road over the top yet to be built.
0:47 River Roe overbridge with abutments well advanced, but no beams in place. This bridge is high enough to allow some trees to remain below it, albeit reduced in height.
1:20 Teeavan Road cutting now completed!
1:35 Magheramore Road overbridge immediately followed by the Owenrigh river bridge. Both very advanced, but neither with roads being built over them as yet.
3:02 Feeny Road overbridge, also with its deck well advanced.
3:40 Site of Owenbeg river bridge, with abutments being built but no beams. Temporary bailey bridge still in place for site access.
5:00 Passing Dernaflaw (on right). Derrychrier Road underpass completed but not yet in use. Embankment for dual-carriageway being built up here.
5:40 Site of temporary batching plant, which is manufacturing the large amount of asphalt needed for the scheme.
6:40 Site of future Killunaught Road bridge, yet to be started. Work here is still focused on excavating the cutting required for the dual-carriageway.
7:20 Start of the enormous Ovil Hill cutting, which is has now had its first strip of blacktop laid.
8:35 Passing Foreglen (GAA pitch visible on right)
9:35 Altagarron Road underpass completed, but not yet open to traffic.
10:30 More blacktop all the way to here (Crock na Brock Road). This local road will be closed once the new road is completed to become two dead-ends.
11:00 Bridge over local watercourse.
Part 2
1:00 Road in shallow cutting as it executes a gentle curve.
1:30 Works underway on foundations for Munreery Road overbridge, which will provide access for local landowners.
2:30 Road approaches existing A6, which it will run adjacent to from here to Claudy. The existing A6 will remain in situ for local access.
4:05 Foundations in place for Ballyhanedin Road overbridge. Existing Ballyhanedin Road running at 45° beyond.
5:40 Long stretch of new road where large quantities of base material are being put in place.
7:15 Gortilea Road overbridge close to completion, but still no sign of the earthen ramp that will carry the road up to it.
8:20 Farm agricultural underpass. A new accommodation lane is being built on the left, parallel to the new road.
10:00 New drainage channels clearly visible in white.
Part 3
0:00 This is the point where the new road rejoins the existing road and subsumes it for several miles. The curved section of the road to the right is new, and will preserve access to the section of the current A6 that we have just flown over.
0:25 Approaching Claudy grade-separated junction (Baranailt Road). Long embankment that will bring the new road above ground level taking shape here. Ahead is the completed new bridge that will carry it over a new local road.
0:35 Curved cutting on the right is for the eastbound on/offslip pair.
0:50 Curved cutting on the left is for the westbound on/offslip pair.
1:25 New road briefly swings to the left of the old road to achieve a gentle curve here. The section of the old road on the right will be removed and replaced by an agricultural access lane.
2:50 Site of future westbound layby visible on the left. The local road on the right will be stopped up.
4:00 Contractor's HQ. Hello everyone, great job you're doing!
5:45 Approaching site of Killaloo grade-separated junction (Claudy West). Southern abutment of new flyover and central pier are in place, but not much else. Approach embankment on the left for realigned Gulf Road.
6:00 Cutting for westbound on/offslip pair visible just beyond the new bridge.
8:25 Beautiful part of Co Derry, with the protected River Faughan to the left and historic Brackfield Bawn on the right. New road squeezes between them on the only route possible.
9:10 Large cutting into the hillside to allow the new road to negotiate the corner.
10:30 Foundations of Ardmore Road bridge on the left, at The Oaks. In middle of frame is the site of the new Burntollet Bridge, with the two enormous pairs of steel beams that were craned into position on 15/16 August 2020.
Part 4
0:00 Traffic diverted onto a temporary road here (following the route of the future eastbound carriageway). New local access laneway being built at the top of the slope.
0:30 The S-bend is a temporary link taking existing traffic onto the Ervey Road Link, which will be a permanent local road. Traffic is no longer using the old A6 to allow construction of The Oaks accommodation overbridge ahead.
1:15 Site of the future Oaks accommodation bridge. The existing road will be excavated down into a cutting here so that the dual-carriageway runs slightly lower down.
2:00 Large amount of surcharge material sitting on the route of the future dual-carriageway in order to speed up the settlement process of the soft ground. All traffic diverted along the new Ervey Road Link ahead to bypass the site of the future Tamnaherin Road grade-separated junction.
2:30 Excavations underway on a partial cutting that will take the local road under the future dual-carriageway here. The new road will be built up on an embankment. A lot of work to be done here. From here to Drumahoe the road goes back to an offline route, leaving the existing A6 intact once again.
4:30 Site of the future Liberty Glen bridge, the longest bridge on the while scheme. Work has yet to begin in earnest on this structure.
5:30 McCay's accommodation overbridge close to completion.
6:15 Approaching the terminus of the scheme at the "temporary" terminus at Lismacarol, Drumahoe.
Part 5
0:35 Lismacarol roundabout on Tirbracken Road taking shape. To the left is the new park-and-ride which is very advanced and should open during the autumn, ahead of the rest of the scheme. From here the drone follows the route of the proposed "phase 2" as far as 2:45, after which it leaves the route of the future road (due to issues flying the drone in proximity to the airport) and flies over Crescent Link to the Foyle.

27 Jul 2020: This update is to bring another 20 photographs, again thanks to Alan Lynas, Esther Harper, Paul McCloskey and Aerial Vision NI. Work seems to be progressing well along all parts of the scheme. The commentary is in the captions to the photos below which are arranged in order from west to east. Some areas do not have photographs - this does not mean that nothing is happening there merely that i don't have photos of them. For example, work seems to be finally getting started at Liberty Glen (just east of Drumahoe), which will be the longest bridge on the entire scheme at just under 200 metres in length and passing about 13 metres above lowest ground level.

Pic 1 - A set of enormous steel beams waiting patiently at Burntollet on 24 July 2020 ready to be craned into place onto the new bridge once the abutments are ready. This bridge is too long for the more usual concrete beam construction. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 2 - Burntollet bridge on 24 July 2020, showing the abutments for the northern half of the new bridge taking shape adjacent to the existing 1950s bridge. This is where the beams in pic 1 will be placed eventually. Over the past few months there have been concerns about pollution incidents in watercourses along the scheme, especially the Faughan which runs particularly close to the site at Burntollet. The matter was raised in Stormont in late June when the DFI Minister said that NIEA was being proactive in investigating. Let's hope incidents of this nature do not occur going forward. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 3 - View looking west from Burntollet on 24 July 2020 showing all traffic on a temporary road that has been built adjacent to the A6. This is to allow the construction of The Oaks accommodation bridge which will pass over the new road on the site of the old road. Ahead, the temporary road curves to the right and then to the left where it continues as the Ervey Road Link, a permanent access road that has just been built and is temporarily carrying all A6 traffic. The diversion came into use on 23 July and will be in place for several months. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 4 - View in the other direction (towards Burntollet) on 24 July 2020 showing the temporary diversion rejoining the existing road. [Alan Lynas]

Pic 5 - View west at the site of the future Killaloo (Gulf Road) grade separated junction west of Claudy on 19 July 2020. The new road will subsume the existing road here, so the embankment beside the road has been cut back to accommodate the wider road, though most of the widening will be on the left. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 6 - Work on the future Killaloo flyover is so far limited to the southern abutment (shown here on 19 July 2020) plus the central pillars (not shown) as well as some of the approach embankments beyond. It will be some time yet before the beams are placed. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 7 - View west along the existing A6 from just west of Claudy crossroads (Baranailt Road) on 19 July 2020. Although the road here is an online upgrade, it actually swings to the left here to achieve the correct geometry for the Claudy junction. The whole area on the left here will be the future dual-carriageway, while the existing A6 shown here will be largely removed and replaced with a much narrower agricultural access road. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 8 - Gortilea Road bridge looking rather gorgeous (in the engineering sense!) in the sun on 19 July 2020 with its fresh concrete and completed bridge deck. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 9 - View west along the route of the future road from near Ballyhanedin Road on 19 July 2020. From here to Dungiven the road runs offline, meaning that the existing road (visible on the extreme right) will remain in place. This was one part of the scheme that was least-advanced, but these photos show major earthworks now underway. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 10 - Same location as pic 9 but looking east towards the site of the future Ballyhanedin Road bridge on 19 July 2020 - the central bridge pillars are beside the excavator, while the southern abutment is visible to the right. Much still to be done here. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 11 - View west along the future dual-carriageway from Crock-na-brock Road (now permanently closed here) near Foreglen on 19 July 2020. Works here have included a major culvert over a local watercourse, now completed. Paul McCloskey]

Pic 12 - The batching plant at Ovil (near Foreglen) is now up and running, as seen here on 20 July 2020. It will be capable of producing large quantities of blacktop for surfacing the road. [Esther Harper]

Pic 13 - Derrychrier Road underpass has now been buried with rock and earth fill, as seen here on 20 July 2020. At a later date the embankments for the road itself will be built on either side. Much of the rock used on the scheme comes from the huge cutting at Ovil Hill. [Esther Harper]

Pic 14 - Moving now to Dungiven, this is Feeny Road overbridge looking well advanced on 19 July 2020. On the right you can see steel reinforcement being placed for casting one of the wingwalls. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 15 - Same location as pic 14, this is the view west from the "temporary" Feeny Road on 19 July 2020 along what will be the future dual-carriageway. A lot of earthworks are evident here too. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 16 - Lovely aerial shot looking west on 24 July 2020 towards the Magheramore Road overbridge (foreground), the completed deck of the Owenrigh River bridge just beyond it and, in the far distance, the Feeny Road overbridge. Since Teeavan Road was closed in May (see its little surviving stretch clinging on on the right) the remainder of the cutting has now been fully excavated. [Aerial Vision NI]

Pic 17 - Moving a little further east than pic 16, this is the view looking west from above the site of the River Roe bridge. This bridge will pass over the river above tree height, and both abutments are taking shape. The white membrane is designed to reduce run off into rivers. 24 July 2020 [Aerial Vision NI]

Pic 18 - Another view of the River Roe bridge site, this time looking east, on 24 July 2020. The terminus of the scheme is on the upper right. Priory Lane overbridge, the last structure on the scheme, can be seen just before it. [Aerial Vision NI]

Pic 19 - View of the terminus of the scheme at the future Magherabuoy roundabout (large site beore the red houses ahead) and the deck of Priory Lane overbridge under construction. The first layers of blacktop are evident here (this might have been placed to provide access for the crane that will be used to install the bridge beams at the River Roe). No work appears to have happened yet on the new stretch of Priory Lane that will be needed to pass over this bridge. [Aerial Vision NI]

Pic 20 - Our final shot is of Priory Lane overbridge, Dungiven, seen here on 19 July 2020 with work well underway on the bridge deck. [Aerial Vision NI]

22 Jun 2020: Another feast of photos in this update, thanks to our amazing spies and photographers on the ground - Alan Lynas, Polly Lynch, Esther Harper, Turmeel, Paul McCloskey and Aerial Vision NI - as well as the contractor, who updated their web site a week or so ago. As always the commentary is in the photo captions and are arranged in order from west to east. The aerial photos were taken by Aerial Vision NI. Although they date from the end of May they're still very relevant. Remember you can see their great pictures on Facebook or Twitter. It's also worth following Esther Harper who often tweets photos from the area around Ovil. Note also that Google Earth recently updated their imagery of the stretch of the A6 from Drumahoe to Ovil, so that's worth checking out too - you can see the whole stretch as it was on 24 April 2020. We are approaching the half way point of the project, in time terms, with completion due in spring 2022.

Aerial photo of the future Tamnaherin Road junction, between Drumahoe and Burntollet, on 30 May 2020. The route of the new dual-carriageway here is obvious, but the material visible is actually overburden, placed to encourage the soft ground to settle. Piling work is due to begin this month on the bridge that will carry the dual-carriageway over Tamnaherin Road. It will be situated close to where the current road passes through the line of the future road. [Aerial Vision NI]

A piling rig sitting at the site of the future bridge at Tamnaherin Road on 21 June 2020, presumably ready to start work shortly. The tarmac in the left foreground is the former A6, which will eventually be buried under the embankment of the new road. [Polly Lynch]

Same location as the previous aerial shot, but looking east, this was the view towards Burntollet (hidden behind the trees) on 30 May 2020. In the left foreground work is well underway on the Ervey Road link, which will connect Ervey Road to the Tamnaherin Road junction. Drivers are going to get a better view of this in July when all A6 traffic is diverted onto it to allow the construction of The Oaks accommodation bridge, which will pass over the A6 just beyond the pool of water visible in the foreground. [Aerial Vision NI]

This photo of the Ervey Road link was taken on 21 June, three weeks after the aerial shot above, showing how much it has progressed even in that time. This view is also looking east, with the current A6 just visible at the top right. The stretch of gravel going to the right just before the two excavators will lead to the future Oaks accommodation bridge. [Polly Lynch]

Moving now to Burntollet Bridge, this is the view looking back the way we came (north, towards Derry) with the Ervey Road link just visible at the very top of the frame. The abutments for the eastern half of Burntollet bridge were in place when this picture was taken on 30 May 2020. On the left of the shot you can also see the two abutments for the future Ardmore Road bridge also in place. As you can see it will cross the river diagonally, rather than at right angles as the older bridge does. [Aerial Vision NI]

This is a ground-level view of Burntollet Bridge seen looking south (towards Dungiven) on 22 June 2020. The original 1950s bridge is on the right, still carrying the A6, while the two abutments for the eastern half of the new bridge are visible to its left. The sloping white sheets in the centre of the shot are all that remains of the 18th century bridge that was demolished to make way for the new bridge. [Alan Lynas]

On 22 June 2020 a set of four steel beams arrived at Burntollet bridge on lorries like this one. This tells us that the new Burntollet bridge is going to have steel beams, rather than concrete ones, probably due to its length and high skew angle. [Alan Lynas]

This photo was taken looking towards Dungiven at Brackfield Bawn, just east of Burntollet on 14 June 2020. It beautifully illustrates three centuries of development - on the right is the early 19th century road (which itself replaced the 17th/18th century road located nearby), the 20th century (1950s) road with the cars on it, and the works taking place to construct the 21st century dual-carriageway on the left. [@Turmeel]

Moving about 2km further east, this aerial shot of the Killaloo (Gulf Road) junction was taken looking east on 30 May 2020. Work here is not as advanced as the other junctions, with only the south abutment of the future overbridge in place. The approach embankment on the right, and the curve of the future westbound on/off-slip, are also visible. [Aerial Vision NI]

Moving another 2km east, this was the site of the future Baranailt Road junction on 30 May 2020. In the centre of the shot is the future bridge with beams in place and the diaphragm (which joins the beams together to form the deck) being constructed during June. The line of the future road and its sliproads is obvious in the earthworks. From here to Dungiven the new road will run offline, leaving the existing A6 in situ, rather than subsuming it. [Aerial Vision NI]

Gortilea Road overbridge as seen on 30 May 2020. With the bridge deck itself now essentially completed, work is now taking place on backfilling the abutments. It will carry Gortilea Road over the new road, though this will require an approach embankment on the right that has yet to be started. [Aerial Vision NI]

About 1km east of Gortilea Road is Ballyhanedin Road which will also be bridged over the new road. The central pillar is in place (just visible in splendid isolation a couple of hundred metres beyond Ballyhanedin Road), but work has finally started on the abutments, with piling works for the southern abutment due to commence soon. More work seems to be taking place on the future road itself at this point too. There is another bridge, an accommodation bridge, at Munreery about 1km east of this one. We don't have a photo of it, but excavations for the bases of this bridge are apparently now taking place. [Aerial Vision NI]

Close to Foreglen village, this is a view looking east (to Dungiven) of the huge Ovil Hill cutting, the largest cutting on the whole scheme, on 30 May 2020, now completed and with the base layers of the road being formed. In time the bare slopes will return to nature and this will look less scar-like on the landscape. It also provided a huge amount of rock for elsewhere on the scheme, greatly reducing the amount of rock that had to be imported from quarries elsewhere. [Aerial Vision NI]

Reaching Dungiven and looking back west (towards Derry) this is the point where the new road will cross the Owenbeg River. This is the only one of the three river bridge at Dungiven that has not yet started, but piling works are due to commence during June on the east and west abutments. Right now there is a temporary 'bailey' bridge over the river for site traffic. In the distance you can just make out a white line crossing over the future road - this is the Derrychrier Road underpass, now completed. This week Esther Harper went for a drive through it, and uploaded a video here! [Aerial Vision NI]

Same location as the previous photo but turning round 180° and looking east, this is the future Feeny Road junction on 30 May 2020 with works now underway on the diaphragm to hold the bridge beams together. Feeny Road will be diverted over the new bridge in due course. [Aerial Vision NI]

This magnificent aerial shot of Teeavan Road (which until recently ran from top middle to bottom left) and Magheramore Road (middle right to lower left) was taken on 31 May 2020. The diverted Teeavan Road had just been opened, and the contractor lost no time at all in excavating the original Teeavan Road to complete the cutting through this hill. At the very bottom of the shot you can see the Owenrigh River bridge, with its deck completed and backfilling now underway. At the top left you can also see the future River Roe bridge, where work is still ongoing on the two abutments. Close to the bottom of the shot you can see the two abutments and the central pillars of the Magheramore Road overbridge. The 8 beams for this bridge were craned into place overnight on 18/19 June 2020. [Les Ross]

This shot of Magheramore Road junction was taken on 14 June 2020, four days before the beams were placed. You can see the southern abutment in the foreground, with the central pier beyond and the northern abutment beyond that. All traffic is temporarily diverted around the site, visible on the left. [Turmeel]

This picture was taken on 21 June 2020 and shows the eight beams in place at Magheramore Road, having been craned into place two days previously. Work will now start on the diaphragm and the bridge deck. [Paul McCloskey]

17 May 2020: We are spoiled for photographs and aerial footage in this update, thanks to various people who are taking photos and allowing me to share them here. You'll also find these folks on Twitter. This month we must thank Alan Lynas, Dee Logue, Polly Lynch, Esther Harper, Paul McCloskey and Sky Photography. I'm going to share 17 photos this time (must be some kind of record), and to make sense of them I'm starting at Derry and working east. I'll include the commentary in the captions.

Pic 1: This shot of the new Park-and-ride facility at Drumahoe on 17 May 2020 shows that kerbing in place and almost ready for tarmac to be laid. This element of the scheme is likely to open in advance of the main dual-carriageway, perhaps sometime this summer. [Dee Logue]

Pic 2: Surcharging in place at Tamnaherin Road junction, between Drumahoe and Burntollet, on 26 April 2020. The future road will run straight ahead here, while all traffic is being diverted to the right. Surcharging is the addition of extra material to speed up the settlement of soft ground. [Polly Lynch]

Pic 3: The 1957 Burntollet Bridge as seen on 16 May 2020. On the left the white sheet covers the remains of the late 18th century "old" bridge which was demolished last summer. The foundations for one of the new abutments for the future bridge is in the centre of shot, with the other abutment being off shot to the left. Due to the fact that the new bridge shares a footprint with the 1957 bridge, the plan is to build the eastbound half of the bridge first, then demolish the 1957 bridge and build the westbound half in its place. [Alan Lynas]

The whole Burntollet area is covered in this amazing aerial movie, released on 7 May 2020. The footage also shows the approaches from either direction. At 3:40 the movie then turns to the nearby Ardmore Road bridge, which will functionally replace the older Oaks Bridge that's also visible, though the older bridge will be retained in this case. There's a good overhead view at 4:30. [Sky Photography]

Pic 4: At the future Claudy junction (Baranailt Road), the beams on the new bridge that will carry the dual-carriageway over the local road were craned into place during the first week of May. The shot above was taken by Paul McCloskey before this happened, on 26 April 2020. There's a great shot of the bridge a week later with the beams in place here. There's also a great aerial movie of this entire junction here, taken by Sky Photography before the beams were put in place, that gives an excellent overview of the site.

Pic 5: This view of Gortilea Road bridge was taken from the existing A6 on 11 May 2020, with Gortilea Road visible in the distance. This bridge will carry this local road over the new dual-carriageway. The beams were put in place last month and the contractor is currently starting the wingwall construction (triangular retaining walls beside the abutments) and backfilling to build the road height up. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 6: The next bridge to the east of Gortilea Road is Ballyhanedin Road bridge, which will carry this local road over the new dual-carriageway. Work here is less advanced - the photograph above shows what looks like the central pillars of the future bridge with the existing A6 on the embankment behind. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 7: Moving now to east of Foreglen village, this picture was taken at the site of the future Killunaught Road bridge, near Ovil Hill on 3 May 2020. At this point the new road will run in a cutting below ground level. This is the view west from Killunaught Road towards Ovil Hill, showing the cutting being excavated. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 8: Same location as above, this is the view east from Killunaught Road looking towards Dungiven on 17 May 2020, showing the foundations of the new dual-carriageway well underway. In the distance is a very large crane. It's hard to see where this is from this view, but it might be at Feeny Road junction which is due to get its beams lifted into place during May. [Esther Harper]

Pic 9: The cutting works at Killunaught Road seem to involve the relocation of a water main as shown in this view taken on 17 May 2020. [Esther Harper]

Pic 10: Also near Ovil, the contractor seems to have been building an on-site batching plant for making asphalt, adjacent to the existing A6, as seen in this shot taken on 10 May 2020. Presumably it's cheaper to build this on site than ship in huge quantities of ready-made asphalt from elsewhere. This implies that we're going to be seeing blacktop being laid in large quantities before too long. [Esther Harper]

Pic 11: This view was taken near Ovil on 17 May 2020 and shows that the planned planting of trees along the new road is already underway [Esther Harper].

Pic 12: This view was also taken near Ovil on 17 May 2020, and shows the foundations of a stretch of the new dual-carriageway well underway, with a drainage ditch to one side. [Esther Harper]

Pic 13: Moving slightly further east, this is the Derrychrier Road underpass largely completed as seen on 7 May 2020. It's not yet open to traffic. The metalwork on the right is the reinforcement for one of the the wingwalls. This structure will eventually be covered with an embankment that will carry the new road. [Esther Harper]

Pic 14: Moving further east again, as we enter the Dungiven Bypass section of the new road, this is site of the future Fenny Road grade-separated junction on 11 May 2020. The central bridge pillars and two abutments were ready for beam installation when this picture was taken, and the lifting work is due to be carried out during May, if it hasn't already happened. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 15: Moving further east again to Magheramore Road, the contractor was diverting Teeavan Road onto its new alignment (shown above on 11 May 2020) this weekend. This will allow the "old" Teeavan Road to be excavated to complete the large cutting that is needed here to accommodate the future dual-carriageway. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 16: Meanwhile, work seems to have finally started on the nearby Magheramore Road bridge which will carry this local road over the new dual-carriageway. The picture above shows the site (with the "old" Teeavan Road bank behind it) on 11 May 2020. Work this month will focus on the foundations for the two abutments and central pillars. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 17: Finally, this is a telephoto shot towards Priory Lane bridge in Dungiven, near the eastern terminus of the scheme, on 17 May 2020 showing its beams in place, as well as the completed cutting that will lead onto the future Magherabuoy Roundabout on the existing A6. Work is now underway on the diaphragm (which joins the beams together) and deck of the Priory Lane bridge. The vertical rods visible at the lower left are piling works underway for the western abutment of the future River Roe bridge. [Esther Harper]

21 Apr 2020: The purpose of this update is to let you know about two new movies that are available on YouTube. The first is a series of aerial shots (available here) taken from a drone on the eastern part of the scheme, between Foreglen village and Dungiven. Thank you to Sky Photography for making this available. I have provided a commentary on the video below, where the numbers refer to the times in the video that the items appear. The second movie is this one, by Ciaran, who has overlaid the plans for each section of the dual-carriageway onto Google Earth imagery, for the entire scheme from Maydown to Dungiven (though note that the first bit from Maydown to Drumahoe is not being built in the current construction phase). A lot of work has gone into this, thank you Ciaran. Two photos are also given at the bottom of this update, with thanks to our man on the ground, Paul McCloskey. The commentary below gives some detail of progress on major structures in the Foreglen-Dungiven area. The following is the latest news from the contractor on the other major structures currently underway on the scheme:

  • McCay’s Accommodation bridge (near Drumahoe) – has its beams in place and work has started on the bridge deck.
  • Burntollet bridge – on a very difficult site, slope stabilisation is complete and work has started on the abutments of the new bridge, which will replace the current one.
  • Ardmore Road bridge (carrying a local road near Burntollet over the river) – the piles for the abutments are in place, and work on the abutments themselves has begun.
  • Killaloo overbridge (for the new junction west of Claudy) – work is still underway on the south abutment, with the north abutment yet to begin.
  • Claudy underbridge (which will carry the dual-carriageway over Baranailt Road) – beams are to be installed within the next month.
  • Gortilea Road overbridge – had its beams put in place last month. Work is now underway on the deck and wingwalls (retaining walls on either side of the abutments).
  • River Roe bridge, Dungiven – piling work for the eastern abutment is complete and work is underway on the western abutment. See pic 1 below.
  • Priory Lane overbridge, Dungiven – had its beams put in place last month. Work is now underway on the deck. See pic 2 below.
  • Several other structures are discussed in the commentary below.

Commentary on the aerial video:

  • 0:10 Starting near the village of Foreglen, this is the view west at the Altagarran Road underpass which is completed but not yet open to traffic. The hardcore foundation of the dual-carriageway is being laid over it.
  • 0:34 Culvert for a small watercourse visible going beneath the embankment. Beyond is a new residential/agricultural access laneway preserving access to a property.
  • 0:50 Now heading west towards the Ovil Hill cutting, the largest cutting on the whole scheme.
  • 1:30 Entering Ovil Hill cutting, which is now completed and the hardcore foundation for the road now laid. The sides of the cutting have been cut into terraces for stability. In due course the embankments will be covered with vegetation. The rock from this cutting was used as fill elsewhere on the scheme.
  • 2:08 Turning back west and heading back towards Altagarran Road. The road will be on an embankment from where it exits Ovil Hill cutting.
  • 3:08 Looking north east towards Foreglen village along Altagarran Road. The road here is currently closed but will likely be reopened this year.
  • 3:33 Now jumping about 4 km east towards Dungiven, this is the Derrychrier Road underbridge which, like Altagarran Road, is a box structure over which the embankment for the new dual-carriageway will be constructed. On the right is the foundation for a new agricultural access road.
  • 3:57 With the box structure completed works here are focused on the north wingwall (bottom left) and south wingwall (upper right). Wingwalls are often triangular in shape and hold back the edges of embankments beside the entrance to a bridge or tunnel.
  • 4:27 Contractor’s van proving that it’s possible to drive through the underpass! We seem to love this underpass, so the next two-and-a-half minutes are an aerial tour around the structure looking at it from all angles.
  • 7:10 On the top surface you can see the metal brackets that were used to attach the box sections to the crane when they were being laid.
  • 7:30 Jumping a further 1.5 km east this is Feeny Road near Dungiven. There will be a grade-separated junction here with sliproad pairs to the bottom left and top right. Feeny Road has been temporarily diverted around the site in order to keep it open during the works.
  • 7:45 Feeny Road flyover – you can see the two abutments and the central piers of the future flyover here. The beams are due to be placed during May.
  • 8:00 The large gap in the embankment on the right is where the westbound sliproad pair will leave/join the future dual-carriageway.
  • 8:30 Continuing to head east along the future dual-carriageway towards the Owenrigh River bridge. Dungiven town is off to the left.
  • 8:43 Turning back to fly back west to Feeny Road junction. Part of the site beyond the junction is currently flooded. As it is currently very dry, this is presumably a deliberate result of drainage management during the works.
  • 9:15 Jumping another 1.5 km east this is the Owenrigh River bridge with its bridge beams in place and the diaphragm under construction. The diaphragm is the structure that holds the bridge beams together. The deck itself will be built on top of that. This is a very wide bridge, as it has to carry four traffic lanes plus a central reservation. There’s an incredible amount of steel rebar visible here – this structure is being built to last! The temporary ‘bailey’ bridge on the left will probably be removed once the bridge is completed.
  • 10:00 This angle illustrates the significant skew that this bridge has. Beyond the bridge is the temporary route of Magheramore Road which has been diverted around the site of a new flyover that will eventually carry it over the dual-carriageway. Work on this bridge has yet to begin.
  • 11:40 Turning east along the route of the future dual-carriageway. Currently Teeavan Road crosses the site (where the tractor is driving) but it is to be diverted to the right along the road visible in the centre of the shot. Once it’s been diverted, the ‘old’ Teeavan Road will be closed and the remaining section of cutting excavated. The camera then flies along the ‘new’ Teeavan Road, which looks close to getting blacktop laid.
  • 12:22 And turning round to fly west again for the final seconds. Thank you Sky Photography!

Pic 1: View east from Teeavan Road on 19 April 2020, towards the piling works for the River Roe bridge. The new road will run towards the camera here in a cutting. Teeavan Road is being re-routed and, once that’s done, the embankment on which the photographer is standing will be cut away to extend the cutting. The white sheets are material designed to reduce mud runoff into the river. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 2: Priory Lane bridge as seen on 11 April 2020, with its beams in place. You can see that the hardcore base for the dual-carriageway is also being put in place. [Paul McCloskey]

10 Apr 2020: Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, some work appears to be ongoing on the scheme and there is some progress to report. Near Dungiven, the realignment of Teeavan Road has progressed well in the past two weeks. Picture 1 below shows this seen from the air. The piling work for the abutments of the River Roe bridge (one of three river crossings near Dungiven) is now completed on the eastern side, and has now begun in the western side. In the month since the beams were lifted into place on the nearby Owenrigh River bridge, the work on the deck of the bridge appears to have advanced well, as can be seen at the bottom right of picture 2 below. Another beam lift took place during the week - this time at the Priory Lane overbridge near the terminus of the scheme in Dungiven. This bridge will allow continued access to Dungiven Priory. After the lift there appears to have been some kind of accident involving a crane toppling over, resulting in the Air Ambulance visiting the scene. Hopefully everybody is OK. At the western end of the scheme, work on realigning the existing A6 Glenshane Road at Drumahoe to meet the new Lismacarol roundabout is continuing. This can be seen in pictures 3 and 4 below. With thanks to Paul McCloskey, Dee Logue and Les Ross in particular for keeping us updated. Mark Lusby recently shared a shot of the works underway near Brackfield Bawn (near Burntollet) here, while Paul McCloskey shared a shot of the Derrychrier Road underpass box structure apparently completed here.

Pic 1: Shot looking north-east from above Teeavan Road (left-right in centre of shot) on 2 April. Dungiven is on the upper left. The white sheeting (designed to prevent mud washing into the river) marks the site of the River Roe overbridge. You can see the piles now in place on the eastern abutment, with a pile driver working on the western abutment. The cutting for the A6 on the left is currently blocked by Teeavan Road, but you can see the route of the realigned route of Teeavan Road taking shape at the bottom. Once diverted, the cutting will be completed. [Les Ross]
Pic 2: Same shot as above, but moving further west to above Magheramore Road (bottom left to middle right). Magheramore Road is currently on a temporary alignment so that a bridge can be built (to the left of where the white van is in centre of shot). Once the bridge is completed the road will be put across it and the current realignment will be removed. You can also see the realigned Teeavan Road taking shape. On the bottom right you can see the deck of the Owenrigh River overbridge taking shape, with a temporary "works" bailey bridge beside it. 2 Apr 2020. [Les Ross]

Pic 3: View of the Tirbracken Road junction with the A6 at Drumahoe on 9 Apr 2020, with Derry city to the left. The A6 is being realigned onto the embankment that can be seen in the distance to meet the new Lismacarol roundabout, the "temporary" terminus of the scheme, that is being built to the right of this shot. [Dee Logue]

Pic 4: Moving a bit further west along the A6 in the Derry direction, and then looking back east this is the view up the embankment visible in pic 3. The A6 will be realigned onto this embankment. Interestingly, this will restore the road to the older alignment that it had in the 18th century, when the main route to Dungiven from Derry continued along what is now Lismacarol Road, before it was replaced by the current Glenshane Road in the 19th century. [Dee Logue]

26 Mar 2020: This update follows on from the one two weeks ago, where the focus was on Dungiven. This time we have photographs that  focus on the Derry end of the scheme, with grateful thanks to Dee Logue and 'Pollyanne'. The contractor, DFI and the scheme's designers issued a joint statement a week ago saying that work on the project would continue despite the Covid-19 pandemic, but that all personnel would be observing social distancing. I don't know if that position has changed in the 7 days since then, but people passing the site have reported less activity in the past few days. Nevertheless, we have six photographs to share below which begin at Tamnaherin Road (The Cross) and then move on to Drumahoe. Enjoy!

Pic 1: View east along the future westbound carriageway near Tamnaherin Road junction (which is just behind the camera) on 26 March 2020. The bus is on the existing A6, which temporarily veers off to the left just here to bypass the site. The fence crossing the site just ahead is a private access lane. In due course it will be replaced by a new laneway to the future roundabout, but remains open for now. This is a similar viewpoint before work began. [Pollyanne]

Pic 2: View east along the future (and also past) A6 from just west of the original Tamnaherin Road junction. Traffic is currently being diverted round this site to the left of the shot. The road here has been built up on a shallow embankment. The plans show an embankment here, so it's not certain whether this is the final height of the new road, or whether it has also been 'surcharged' with extra material to make it settle more rapidly. This is the same view before work began. [Pollyanne]

Pic 3: Moving to Lismacarol Road, this is the McCay's accommodation overbridge about half a mile east of the scheme's terminus at Drumahoe, on 26 Mar 2020 with its beams recently lifted into place. It will preserve access to private property. [Dee Logue]

Pic 4: View north across McCay's accommodation overbridge on 26 Mar 2020. The concrete structure in the foreground is the bridge abutment, which will be backfilled, while ahead you can see the six beams (two sets of three) that make up the bridge structure. It is narrow as it will only carry a laneway. [Dee Logue]

Pic 5: Slightly blurry, but nevertheless a very informative shot looking along the future route of the A6 Glenshane Road where it will curve round to meet the terminus of the dual-carriageway at a new roundabout behind the camera. This is roughly the same viewpoint before work began. 26 Mar 2020. [Dee Logue]

Pic 6: This is the same area as pic 5, but viewed from the Glenshane Road. The road will be diverted up the hill straight ahead to the future Lismacarol roundabout. The building site on the left of the shot is the future park-and-ride facility. This is the same view before work began. [Dee Logue]

12 Mar 2020: Quite a bit has happened since the last update in February. The update here will focus mostly on the structures (bridges and underpasses) along the scheme since that's what we have the most information on. There are also some additional photos taken around Dungiven. The most significant event was the biggest beam lift on the scheme to date, which took place in mid February and involved lifting 8 beams, each of 135 tonnes, into place across the Owenrigh River beside Magheramore Road, Dungiven (here). The number of beams required is so high because this bridge will carry the dual-carriageway itself over the river. Below are some pictures of the area showing it before, during and after the beam lift. The contractor has made a great time-lapse movie of the beam lift that can be seen on YouTube here (though mis-identifying the river as the Roe). This is one of three river bridges that need to be built on the Dungiven Bypass section, the other two being the Owenbeg and Roe bridges. Neither of those is as advanced as the Owenrigh River bridge. The other notable beam lift of the past month was at Gortilea Road, which is a local road east of Claudy that will be bridged over the new dual-carriageway here. These beams were lifted into place around 25 February. There is one photo of this below. A third structure which advanced this month was the Derrychrier Road underpass, west of Dungiven. This is a local road that will pass beneath the new dual-carriageway, and so is made from box sections placed side by side. There is a photo of this below, too. The contractor has put a site update on their web site for March, though because they refer to the structures by number rather than by name I've translated the bulk of it below (going from west to east).

  • Structure 1 - McCays accommodation overbridge, which is located a few hundred metres from the terminus of the scheme at Drumahoe. Abutments are in place and the beams will be lifted in early March (if not already).
  • 5 - Burntollet Bridge - Piling has been installed for this very complex bridge and pouring of the concrete base is taking place in early March 2020. I suspect only the eastern half of this bridge is being built initially, though that's not confirmed.
  • 8 - Killaloo Road overbridge, at the new grade-separated junction west of Claudy. The concrete base and abutment on the south side is well advanced, and excavation for centre pier is underway. Work on the north pier can't start yet as the current A6 is in the way.
  • 9 - Baranailt Road underbridge, at the new grade-separated junction at Claudy. This bridge will carry the new road over a local road. The pit for the local road has been dug and work on laying the the concrete base is underway. The abutments on either side also seem to be advancing.
  • 11 - Gortilea Road bridge - now that the beams have been installed, work on the diaphragm (which ties the beams together) is underway after which the deck itself can be built.
  • 18 - Feeny Road overbridge, Dungiven - Concrete making up the two abutments and centre pier will be poured this month. Once that's done the next stage will be a beam lift.
  • 21 - River Roe overbridge - Work is continuing on piling for the east abutment.
  • 22 - Priory Lane overbridge, which will carry the lane used to access Dungiven Priory over the new road, is located near the eastern terminus of the scheme. The abutments and central pier of this bridge are well advanced and the beams will be lifted at the end of March. See photos below.

Finally, time for the photos. All but two of these are by Paul McCloskey. I recommend following his Twitter feed for more updates.

Pic 1:
We start with this amazing aerial photo of the Owenrigh River bridge before the beam lift, with the Magheramore Road parallel to it and Teeavan Road heading up to the top right. You can see how Magheramore Road is temporarily diverted round the site of what will be a bridge to carry it over the new road. Teeavan Road, at the top, will be diverted to the right of the new road, so won't require a bridge. Photo taken early Feb 2020. [Les Ross]

Pic 2: Photo shared by DFI showing the beam lift taking place c14 Feb 2020. A large base has been constructed to spread the load of the crane to ensure that it doesn't collapse the river bank, with each beam weighing 135 tonnes. [DFI]

Pic 3. Photo taken from Teeavan Road (near the top edge of pic 1) on 8 March 2020 looking east along the route of the future dual-carriageway towards Dungiven Priory. The large cutting visible here will eventually be extended by removing Teeavan Road itself, once an alternative route has been built. The white sheeting ahead is to prevent silt entering the River Roe which is up ahead. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 4. Same location on Teeavan Road as pic 3, but turning round the other way and looking west, 8 March 2020. The flat area ahead is the future route of Teeavan Road which will be diverted to run alongside the new dual-carriageway.[Paul McCloskey]

Pic 5. Moving further along Teeavan Road, this is the view west on 8 March 2020 showing the beams now in place on the Owenrigh River bridge. Once the diversion for Teeavan Road has been built, the whole area on which the photographer is standing will be excavated to form a cutting for the new road. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 6. Moving briefly east to Priory Lane, near the eastern terminus of the scheme, this is the view east (from here) towards what will be the Magherabuoy Road roundabout on 8 March 2020. You can just see the street lights of the existing A6. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 7. Same location as pic 6 (here), but looking the other way (west), this is the two abutments and central pier for Priory Lane overbridge on 8 March 2020. The beams for this bridge will be lifted into place at the end of March. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 8. The pre-cast box sections in place for Derrychrier Road underbridge (here) on 8 March 2020, not long after being installed. The new road will eventually pass over this structure on an embankment. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 9. A view of Gortilea Road overbridge (here) with its beams in place on 28 February 2020. The new dual-carriageway runs parallel to the existing road here, but at a lower elevation, so this bridge is at "ground" level from the perspective of the existing road. [Paul McCloskey]

10 Feb 2020: From a famine to a feast! Since the last update we have been treated to a set of wonderful photos taken by AerialVisionNI which I reproduce below with a detailed commentary. If you want to see the full-res versions of the images you can get them on his Twitter feed, dated 5 Feb 2020. We are also treated to a wonderful aerial video of the Dungiven Bypass end of the scheme, which has been posted on Twitter by Sean Owens on 7 Feb 2020. The video starts on the existing A6 at Magherabuoy where the hill has now been fully excavated to reach the main road. Construction of the roundabout could begin before too long, though they may decide to wait until the new road is closer to completion. The video then turns west and follows the route of the Dungiven Bypass for 1.6 miles to Feeny Road. On the way it passes over the River Roe and the River Owenreagh. The latter is easily identified because it has a massive yellow crane adjacent to it, ready to lift the bridge beams into place. This lift was to have taken place last weekend but appears to have been thwarted by Storm Ciara. Hopefully the beam lift will be able to take place this week, as it is not cheap to hire a crane of this size, and you certainly don't want it sitting idle. A second video by Sean Owens focuses on the crane itself. Anyway, here are the photos. Thanks again to the AerialVisionNI!

Pic 1: View east along the future dual-carriageway from Feeny Road, Dungiven on 5 Feb 2020. Feeny Road is currently diverted around the work site on a temporary road to allow construction of the future flyover. The picture shows that the foundations of the bridge are now in place, with work on the abutments and central piers getting underway. On either side you can see two bridge beams being stored. These are not for Feeny Road, but rather for the bridge that will carry the new dual-carriageway over Owenrigh River. This is located where the yellow crane can be seen in the distance. They were due to be lifted into place during the weekend of 7-9 February, but this seems to have been delayed due to Storm Ciara. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 2: Moving west to Foreglen, this is the view east through Ovil Hill cutting, the largest cutting on the whole scheme, on 5 Feb 2020. This was one of the first excavations to commence and it now appears to be completed, with the exposed rock on either side now landscaped with topsoil. The foundations of the road itself now seem to be under construction here. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 3: View west from roughly the same location as picture 2, this is the view east along the future dual-carriageway on 5 Feb 2020. Foreglen village is on the right with the GAA pitch in the foreground. The underpass that will carry Altagarron beneath the new road appears to be largely completed, but not yet open to traffic, while the embankments for the new road are in place on either side. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 4: Moving further west again, this is the view east along the future dual-carriageway at Ballyhanedin Road on 5 Feb 2020. At this point the new road will run adjacent to the current road, but at a lower elevation. Early works are underway on the bridge that will carry Ballyhanedin Road over the new road, but works on the foundations of the new road are not as advanced here as they are near Foreglen. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 5: View west from roughly the same location as picture 4, this is the view west on 5 Feb 2020 with Gortilea Road in the foreground. Works on the bridge visible here are more advanced than they are at Ballyhanedin Road. Beyond this point little work has taken place on the future dual-carriageway, but its route is apparent in the fencing in the fields in the distance. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 6: Fantastic view looking north of the future Baranailt Road grade-separated junction near Claudy on 5 Feb 2020. Baranailt Road is to be diverted to pass to the left of the buildings visible at the bottom of this image, and you can see a major excavation underway. This is to carry the realigned Baranailt Road beneath the new dual-carriageway, which will be built up on an embankment here. To the right of the excavation the foundations of the new road are underway, after the last of the vested properties here was recently demolished. From here to near Drumahoe the new road will run along the route of the existing A6, rather than to one side of it. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 7: View looking east of the future Killaloo grade-separated junction (just west of Claudy) on 5 Feb 2020. This will feature two looped sliproads – one on the bottom right, shown partially constructed here, and one on the upper left. Connecting them will be a new bridge over the A6, the foundations of which can just be seen to the right of the blue lorry. On the left a new local access lane to provide access to the homes visible on the left appears to be completed and in use. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 8: View north-west along the A6 on 5 Feb 2020 from beside Cumber Presbyterian Church and Brackfield Bawn, the latter of which is visible on the right. Here the new road curves to the right as it approaches Burntollet. This requires a major cutting into the hillside on the right as the much wider road needs to be accommodated on this site, as it can’t encroach on the River Faughan on the left. The layby visible on the left distance preserves the line of the original 19th century road, prior to the previous A6 upgrade in the 1960s and 70s. A new layby, of a more modern design, will be constructed here.  [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 9: View north over Burntollet Bridge on 5 Feb 2020. This is the most confined point on the entire scheme due to the protected woodland on the right and the protected River Faughan on the left. On the left you can see the historic Oaks Bridge which carries Ardmore Road. That bridge will be retained, but will be functionally replaced by a new, and considerably longer, bridge – construction of which can be seen to be underway adjacent to it. The 1960s Burntollet Bridge itself will be replaced by a new, wider structure, the foundations of which are taking shape here. It looks possible that the eastbound half of the bridge will be built first, and brought into use, after which the existing bridge will be demolished, allowing the westbound half of the new bridge to be completed. Finally, another cutting is visible ahead, as the new wider road has to be accommodated on the sloping terrain here. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 10: View west towards the future Tamnaherin Road grade-separated junction on 5 Feb 2020, a couple of miles east of Drumahoe. Here all traffic is being diverted around the junction to allow construction of the bridge that will carry the new A6 over the junction. Although the diversion is temporary, the section of road in the foreground is actually permanent, as it will form part of a new local road link to Ervey Road once the new dual-carriageway is completed. From here to Drumahoe the new road once again leaves the route of the existing A6 and runs cross-country to its terminus. A short length of new road will be built to the left of the junction as seen here to connect the junction to the existing A6 into the city. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 11: View west along the future dual-carriageway from above Liberty Glen (which will be the longest bridge on the scheme, though work has not yet begun on it) on 5 Feb 2020. Here the road runs in a shallow cutting, which currently seems to be being used to store spoil temporarily. Work on an accommodation bridge is visible half way along the cutting, to preserve access to the farm on the right. The existing road on the left here is Lismacarol Road. It is today a minor road but in the 1700s it was the principal route from Drumahoe towards Glenshane. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 12: Same view as pic 11, but moving a few hundred metres west to the accommodation bridge under construction. It does not look as if it will be too much longer before the beams for this bridge can be put in place. The laneway visible just beyond the bridge will be closed and excavated once the bridge is completed. Feb 2020. [AerialVisionNI]

Pic 13: View of the temporary terminus of the scheme at Tirbracken Road on 5 Feb 2020. The new roundabout is taking shape here, with traffic on Tirbracken Road currently being diverted round the eastern side of it. The two carriageways will separate as they approach this junction (“splay”) to allow for its future continuation to Caw. For now this will mean that the area of land between the on and offslips will remain undeveloped. Right now it appears to be being used as a storage area for spoil. The flat area of land to the upper left of the roundabout is being developed as a park-and-ride facility. The eventual plan is that, under a separate contract, the dual-carriageway will be continued beyond this point and curve to the right into the distance to meet the A2 near Caw. For now, this is where all traffic will have to come off the new road. [AerialVisionNI]

27 Jan 2020: It is difficult to find out exactly what is happening on the scheme, so what follows is really just snippets I have gathered from here and there. Hopefully the contractor will put up another update soon, and perhaps even a new drone video! At the start of the scheme in Drumahoe work still seems to be ongoing at Tirbracken Road. This will not only be the site of the new Lismacarol roundabout, but it will also be the site of a new park-and-ride facility. Dee Logue posted a couple of pictures of the site last week, which show earthworks underway to allow the existing A6 to be realigned to meet the new roundabout, plus other adjacent works. Piling work also seems to be well underway for the abutments of the new bridge at Burntollet, with the climbing lanes on the approach also closed. It will be interesting to see how the temporary traffic management will work here since the new bridge is to occupy the site of the current bridge, but about one metre higher. Clearly the old bridge can't be taken out of use until there is an alternative for traffic. Perhaps the new bridge will be built in two halves, with traffic switched to one half and the old bridge then demolished. We shall have to wait and see. A number of large bridge beams were seen being transported towards Drumahoe during January, but it's not clear which bridge they were intended for. Closer to Claudy, at the site of the Baranailt Road grade-separated junction the two remaining houses that lay on the route of the future dual-carriageway have finally been demolished (these are visible in pic 4 in the update for 20 Nov 2019 below). Finally, there is more evidence of work east of Claudy around Gortilea Road and Ballyhanedin Road. Both roads are to be bridged over the future dual-carriageway, and construction work is well underway on both, with Gortilea Road looking like it will be ready for beams before long. According to Paul McCloskey earthworks on the future dual-carriageway itself have intensified along this stretch since the New Year. As I said, hopefully we'll get an update soon from the contractor, but in the meantime your best bet is to follow the man-on-the-ground, Paul McCloskey, who is keeping us all updated!

20 Dec 2019: As the winter sets in, work on the scheme now seems to be very focused around construction of structures (bridges and underpasses) of which there are 22 on the scheme. The contractor recently put up an update on their web site here, which lists all the structures that work is taking place on, plus a number of interesting photos at the bottom of their page. The unstoppable Paul McCloskey, meanwhile, has also been putting up pictures. You can see his images taken recently at the Dungiven end of the scheme here, here and here. Finally, Edward Durey of www.derrycityparamotoring.co.uk has put up a wonderful aerial video that he took of the western half of the scheme at the start of December. What follows is a brief commentary on this video, which begins at Drumahoe and works east almost as far as Claudy. The first minute is just Eddy taking off, so we begin at 1:09.

1:09 - The terminus of the scheme at Drumahoe. This is the site of the future Lismacarol roundabout on Tirbraken Road, which finally re-opened to traffic this week after a four week closure. The foundations of the eastern arm of the roundabout can just be seen to the left of the red fencing.
1:53 - With the road in a cutting, this is McCay's accommodation overbridge. The bridge piers appear completed, and the beams will be lifted into place during January.
2:25 - Trees cleared for the bridge over Liberty Glen, the largest structure on the whole scheme. Work on this bridge has not yet begun.
2:48 - Footprint of the new road very evident to the left of the existing road, which will remain in place here for local access.
3:05 - Approaching the site of the future Tamnaherin Road overbridge. The existing A6 has been diverted onto a temporary loop around the site to allow construction of the bridge and approach embankments. From here to Claudy the new road will subsume the existing A6.
3:28 - Passing Ervey Road. About 1km of new road is being built here to extend Ervey Road as far as the Tamnaherin Road junction, as it will no longer be able to join the A6 directly (as it currently does just ahead).
3:40 - New accommodation lane under construction to left of the current road.
4:00 - Approaching Burntollet, the most constricted point on the whole scheme, with woodland on either side plus the protected River Faughan.
4:21 - Burntollet bridge, with demolition of the 18th century stone bridge completed. The 20th century concrete bridge will also be demolished in due course to be replaced by a new structure. On the right, but not that visible, piling work is underway for the new bridge to carry Ardmore Road over the Faughan river.
4:45 - New road will run slightly to the left of the current alignment here. Excavation of the necessary cutting is not yet complete, but the land is fenced off.
5:47 - At Cumber Presbyterian Church the line of the road has to move to the right to avoid the historic structure, but the proximity of the river means a large embankment will be needed on the right here.
6:10 - Approaching the future Killaloo grade-separated junction, providing access to Claudy to/from the west. The new road follows the line of the existing, 20th century A6 (visible on the left), but on the right you can see the perfectly straight 18th century road that preceded it.
6:17 - Excavation on the bridge that will carry Killaloo Road over the new A6 here is completed, and construction of the bridge piers has begun.
7:10 - Long stretch of earthworks, and in the area just ahead it passes through quite boggy ground. This type of excavation sometimes needs cut-and-replace, where soft material is removed and replaced with higher-quality material, usually from elsewhere on the site.
7:51 - Eddy turns back at this point, just before reaching the Claudy junction.

Work is also underway on the rest of the scheme, after the video ends. Some highlights are:

  • At the future Claudy grade-separated junction, foundations of the bridge are construction has begun.
  • The Paul Ward accommodation underpass just east of Claudy is completed.
  • At Gortilea Road, which will be bridged over the new road, excavations are completed and construction is underway.
  • At Ballyhanedin Road, which will also pass over the new road, piling work on the foundations is ongoing.
  • The Altagarron Road underpass is completed and is being backfilled to allow the new A6 to be built above.
  • The Derrychrier Road underpass near Dungiven is also excavated. Pre-cast units will be fitted in late January 2020.
  • Near Dungiven, Feeny Road has been diverted around the site of the future grade-separated junction. Piling work for the bridge is currently underway.
  • Three river bridges are to be built near Dungiven - at the Owenbeg, Owenrigh and Roe rivers. The second of these is most advanced, with the abutments close to completion and beams to be put in place at the end of January. Piling work on the Roe bridge, meanwhile, is underway.
  • At the eastern terminus of the scheme in Dungiven, work is now underway on the Priory Lane overbridge. This will carry a laneway to maintain pedestrian access to Dungiven Priory.

Happy Christmas!

20 Nov 2019: We are now a third of the way through constuction of this scheme, which is due to be completed in spring 2022. We are now seeing increasing evidence of the new road itself, as opposed to just earthworks. In this update I am sharing four great photos taken by AerialVisionNI and once again put up here with their permission - thank you. (You can see higher-res versions of the images here.) I'll leave the details to the captions of the photos. Ten days ago the contractor had to fully close the A6 at Drumahoe in order to lay a culvert beneath the road. This was not on the route of the dual-carriageway itself, but at a point where the existing road is to be realigned to meet the terminal roundabout at Lismacarol. The culvert had to be laid at a depth of several metres, meaning that the large plant equipment needed the full width of the road. Although it caused some disruption, the contractor tells us that it went very well, and was completed ahead of schedule, on the Sunday evening, despite heavy rain. Google Earth imagery has also been updated, so you can now see the scheme underway on the stretch from Claudy to Dungiven. The imagery is dated 21 September 2019. Anyway, here are the photos, working from east to west:

Pic 1: View north-east towards Dungiven town on 15 Nov 2019, with Feeny Road in the foreground. This will be the first grade-separated junction on the scheme. The new road, seen heading off to the top right here, will be in a shallow cutting and Feeny Road will remain on its original route, bridged over it. However, it has been temporarily realigned to the west to allow the bridge to be built. This temporary road will eventually be removed. There will be two pairs of sliproads - one to the top left of the bridge as seen from this angle, and one to the bottom right. There is some water ponding evident here due to the heavy rain, and the fact that the permanent drainage system has not yet been completed. [Aerial Vision NI]

Pic 2: Stunning view looking west of the new dual-carriageway taking shape near Foreglen on 15 Nov 2019. Foreglen village is off frame to the right, and the box structure visible at the very bottom is to carry Altagarran Road beneath the new road. The new road is on an embankment here, which is clearly taking shape, before entering a shallow cutting in the distance. The white lines on either side of the embankment mark the location of the future drainage channels. The existing A6 runs parallel to the new road, but about 500 metres to the right here. [Aerial Vision NI]

Pic 3: View east along the new dual-carriageway from close to Ballyhanedin Road (visible in the foreground) on 15 Nov 2019. This is between Foreglen village and Claudy. At this point the new road runs parallel to, but at a slightly lower elevation than, the existing A6 which will remain in use as a local road. Ballyhanedin Road will be bridged over the new road. Look at Ballyhanedin Road just as it approaches the T-junction. Then if you look upwards from there you can just see a rectangular water-filled hole. This is the excavation for the future overbridge. Ballyhanedin Road will be realigned to cross over a new bridge at this spot. At the bottom of the frame you can see workers continuing to excavate the cutting, which is in relatively soft ground here. [Aerial Vision NI]

Pic 4: Fish-eye view looking north across the site of the future Baranailt Road grade-separated junction, near Claudy, on 15 Nov 2019. To make sense of this shot it may be helpful to look at the map below, which shows how it will look when finished. All A6 traffic is now being diverted up the new link road visible above and to the right of the centre of the shot. This will become a permament road in due course, as this is the point where the existing A6 will become subsumed by the new road (to the left) but, beyond which it will remain as a local road (to the right). The closure of the current A6 is needed because the existing road is to be buried beneath an embankment which will carry it up and over Baranailt Road, which will be realigned and put into a slight cutting. On the extreme left you can see a deep hole which is being dug for the foundations of the new bridge. The house visible at the extreme right has been vested and will shortly be demolished, as it lies in the centre of the new road. [Aerial Vision NI]

Pic 5: Map showing the final layout of the Baranailt Road (Claudy) grade-separated junction.

14 Oct 2019: As the nights start to draw in, work on this scheme passed its first anniversary at the end of September. A number of road closures are underway - including Gulf Road and part of Foreglen Road at Killaloo, just west of Claudy. A new grade-separated junction is being built here, and Gulf Road lies beneath it, so it needs to be closed to allow the construction of a new bridge to carry Gulf Road over the new dual-carriageway. Meanwhile, a few miles to the east, a temporary new link road has opened at Baranailt Road. Because this is a relatively busy road (it is the main access onto the A6 from Claudy) it needs to remain open, despite a new junction being built on top of it. So the temporary new link road has been built to bypass the site in the interim. It will presumably be removed in due course. Meanwhile, just west of Dungiven, Killunaght Road and Derrychrier Road have both now been closed and will remain so until next summer. At this point the new road runs parallel to, and at a lower elevation than, the current road. Both local roads will be bridged over the new road, but as these bridge both lie on the route of the current roads they have to be closed to allow the bridges to be built. They will be reopened once completed. Finally, between Burntollet and Drumahoe Mavis Road is about to be closed, and will remain so for two years. Mavis Road is a very minor road, and is largely unaffected by the new road (it lies off to one side), but is of interest because a new link road is to be built at its south end to connect Ervey Road to the new Tamnaherin Road grade-separated junction. So the closure is presumably to allow work on the new link road to progress. In summary, we're now in the central phase of the project where many of the earthworks have been completed or advanced and work is increasingly focusing on construction of bridges and associated link roads. This is likely to remain the dominant activity for the next year. The new road is due to open fully by spring 2022, i.e. two and a half years from now.

11 Sep 2019: The scheme is approaching its first anniversary, with two-and-a-half years to go and activity is now evident along much of the length of the scheme. I am sharing four photographs below, which were all taken within the past week. But in addition, the contractor has put up a 45 minute aerial video of the entire scheme that was taken on 28 August, i.e. two weeks ago. As I did for the last video three months ago I have provided a brief commentary on the video below, for those who would find it useful. You may wish to open the video in a separate window and keep the commentary open beside it. Times refer to the points in the video where various things can be seen, in minutes and seconds. The first three photos below are aerial done shots taken by AerialVisionNI and put up here with their permission - thank you. You can see the original (higher-res) versions here. The final one was provided with thanks from Dee Logue. He shared other photos of the same location here and here. The contractor also put up an update in August on their site here, which includes further information and an interesting selection of photographs.

Commentary on this aerial video, which starts at Dungiven and ends at Drumahoe:
0:14 Starting at the eastern side of Dungiven, this is the site of the future Magherabuoy roundabout where the scheme will begin with a bypass around the town. Although the land here was cleared some months ago, earthworks have now begun to construct the road bed.
0:53 Dungiven Priory visible on the left. Access will be preserved by a new bridge to be built over the new road here.
1:30 Site of future bridge over the River Roe. The road seems very wide here because it has to be built up on an embankment on either side of the river, adding to the width needed.
2:00 Approaching Teeavan Road and Magheramore Road. There will eventually be a cutting here, and a bridge to carry Magheramore Road over it, but excavation has not yet begun.
2:40 Temporary bailey bridge over river.
4:30 Site of future Feeny Road grade-separated junction. The black, curvey lane on the left is a future agricultural accommodation laneway.
6:00 Temporary Derrychrier bailey bridge.
7:30 New embankment for the future A6 approaching Derrychrier Road, which will eventually go under the new road.
9:50 Cutting to carry future A6 beneath Killunaugh Road under construction (and partly flooded after rain).
11:30 Approaching Ovil Hill cutting, the largest cutting on the entire scheme where excavation has been underway for almost a year.
12:35 Passing Foreglen GAA ground.
13:20 Structure to carry Altagarran Road beneath the new A6 now complete and being backfilled to create the embankments on either side, especially visible beyond.
14:45 Passing Crock-na-brock Road.
16:10 Passing along a long, shallow cutting with a new accommodation laneway being built to the left.
17:40 Land to the left is not part of the scheme, so the contractor must have an arrangement with a landowner to use this field for storing spoil.
18:30 Road approaches existing A6 and runs alongside it for the next few kilometres at a lower elevation.
19:45 Approaching site of bridge that will carry Ballyhanedin Road over the new A6. Beyond this point the road will run to the left of the existing road, but earthworks have not yet begun.
21:00 Long stretch with earthworks yet to begin.
22:30 Works underway to construct the bridge that will carry Gortilea Road over the new road. The new road is still running parallel to the existing road at this point.
23:30 Resumption of earthworks.
26:20 Point where the new road will joint he existing A6. From here to near Drumahoe it will be an online upgrade. New route for the existing bit of the A6 that we've already passed is visible curving to the right ahead.
27:00 Future site of Claudy grade-separated junction. Traffic has been diverted to the right to facilitate construction of a new bridge that will carry the future dual-carriageway over the local road network here.
29:00 Excavation of soft material.
29:50 Passing contractor's site HQ (hello!) with road foundations well underway on the left.
30:50 Site of future Killaloo grade-separated junction. Approach embankment to the flyover over the new road is taking shape on the left.
33:50 Significant cutting will be made into the hill to the right of the A6 here, to accommodate the wider road. Site clearance already carried out.
35:40 Site of the Burntollet bridges. The "old" bridge, which probably dated to the 18th century (but not listed), was demolished during August. The "new" bridge, which dates to the 1950s, will soon be demolished too to make way for a much larger bridge. Environmental constraints including rivers and protected woodland make this the most confined part of the whole scheme.
36:20 Site of future cutting in hillside with land already cleared.
37:00 New local road (extension of Ervey Road) under construction on right to provide a link to Tamnaherin Road (ahead) for local traffic.
39:00 Site of future Tamnaherin grade-separated junction, with not much earthworks yet evident. At this point the new road swings offline again from the existing A6 (to the right) and is offline until its terminus at Drumahoe.
41:10 Site of future bridge over Liberty Glen, the longest bridge on the whole scheme.
42:05 Foundations in place for future accommodation overbridge, crossing cutting.
43:00 Terminus of scheme at Tirbracken Road in Drumahoe. The two carriageways diverge and will join a new roundabout. Works beyond Tirbracken Road ahead are for a new park-and-ride.

View west from the start of the scheme at Magherabuoy, east Dungiven, on 8 September 2019, showing the route of the future Dungiven Bypass snaking away to the left. [AerialVisionNI]

View east towards the start of the scheme in Dungiven, looking over the access road to Dungiven Priory (off frame to right). A cutting has recently been excavated in the foreground. The white lines are for drainage. 8 Sep 2019. [AerialVisionNI]

View of the A6 site heading west into the distance from Dungiven on 8 Sep 2019. [AerialVisionNI]

Work underway on the new park-and-ride at the terminus of the scheme on Tirbracken Road, Drumahoe (which is currently closed). [Dee Logue]

26 Jul 2019: The contractor has been enjoying some wonderful weather in recent weeks and taking full advantage of it. This update is to bring you some wonderful aerial done shots taken by AerialVisionNI and put up here with their permission. I've also included a couple of extracts from the design drawings to help you make sense of these views, which were taken at three different locations. You can find the original (higher-res) images here and here, including a couple I haven't put up here. Thank you to AerialVisionNI!

This is the view looking east across what will be the Killaloo grade-separated junction, serving the western end of Claudy village, on 23 July 2019. The image below shows the plan for this junction. The shape of the NE sliproad loop is clearly visible, as is the connection to the B74 Glenshane Road on the right. There will eventually be an bridge over the new dual-carriageway, which is an online upgrade here. [AerialVisionNI]

Plan of the completed Killaloo junction.

View west from the site of the Killaloo junction on 23 July 2019. The new road is an online upgrade along here. A bit of road history is evident in this picture. The road to the left of centre is the Glenshane Road, which was the main road to Derry until 1969. It was replaced by the Foreglen Road, the road to the right of centre, in the major upgrade of the A6 that took place between 1960 and 1975 that saw almost the entire route from Derry to Castledawson upgraded to a high quality single-carriageway standard. [AerialVisionNI]

The view north-east across the site of the Claudy junction of 23 July 2019. This is the point where the online upgrade (to the left/west of here) becomes an offline upgrade (to the right/east of here). That means that the current Foreglen Road east of here will remain in-situ after the new road opens, so a new link is being built here to connect it to the Baranailt Road, visible at the top of this picture. The image below shows the design for this junction, to help you get your bearings. The dual-carriageway will eventually pass over this junction on a large flyover with embankments on either side. [AerialVisionNI]

View west across the site of the Claudy junction on 23 July 2019, with the route of the new road clearly visible ahead. Although the new route strays slightly from the existing route at this point, the existing road will be removed, eventually leaving just the new road. [AerialVisionNI]

View west along the site of the future dual-carriageway from near Gortilea Road, east of Claudy, on 23 July 2019. The existing road will remain in situ here for local access, with the new road sitting at a lower elevation beside it. The concrete structure in the foreground is (I believe) a culvert to carry a stream under the new road. In three years there will be an eastbound layby just here, but a lot is to be done before that! [AerialVisionNI]

View east across Gortilea Road (the brown line going to the right, as the road is currently closed) on 23 July 2019. Again, the existing road will remain in situ here for local access, with the new road sitting at a lower elevation beside it. This difference in elevation will allow Gortilea Road to be comfortably carried over the new road on a bridge. No earthworks have yet taken place along the route just to the east of Gortilea Road, on the right here. [AerialVisionNI]

13 Jun 2019: The contractor has put up a magnificent drone video, over 40 minutes long, which takes the viewer along the entire length of this 30 km scheme. While the photos that I shared last month (below) are interesting, there is nothing that beats drone footage for getting an overview of a project. Many thanks to the contractor for putting up this video – I hope that they put up similar videos at intervals in the next three years as the project progresses. I have provided a brief commentary on the video below, for those who would find it useful. You may wish to open the video in a separate window and keep the commentary open beside it. Times refer to the points in the video where various things can be seen, in minutes and seconds.

0:00 The video begins at Dungiven and heads west. This first view shows the existing A6 Glenshane Road to the east of the town, which is the start of the scheme. A new roundabout, to be called Magherabuoy Roundabout, will be sited close to where the bare soil can be seen. The Dungiven Bypass component of the scheme will then head off cross-country to the left.
1:40 The new road passes Dungiven Priory.
3:00 The new road crosses Magheramore Road. There will be a bridge here but no access to the dual-carriageway.
5:00 Site of the future grade-separated junction at Feeny Road. There will be two pairs of looped sliproads, one to the lower left and one to the upper right, which can be seen in the shape of the fenced-off land. Travelling west this will be the last junction until Claudy, a full 8 miles to the west, making this the longest stretch of road with no junctions in Northern Ireland (the 6.4 mile stretch of the M1 from j8 to j9 is the current record holder). From here until Claudy the road runs generally offline to the south of the current road.
5:30 Passing Owenbeg GAA ground.
6:20 Temporary bailey bridge for construction traffic. Foreglen village visible on the right.
8:10 Road crosses Derrychrier Road, still running offline. The existing A6 will remain in use as a local road.
10:20 Road crosses Killunaght Road.
12:00 Ovil Hill cutting, the largest earthwork on the entire scheme. To provide stability, the banks will be formed into three terraces. This cutting is providing a huge amount of rock for the scheme, minimising the amount of quarried rock that needs to be brought in from elsewhere. This rock is being graded and sorted here – you can see a long line of light grey rock in the cutting. This is thousands of tonnes of processed rock being stored here until it is needed.
13:00 Passing Foreglen GAA ground.
13:40 New underpass that will carry Altagarron Road beneath the new dual-carriageway. You can also see a new concrete accommodation road on the left (to provide agricultural access).
14:00 Area of peat that has to be dug out and replaced with harder material to support the new road.
17:00 Long offline section to the south of the existing road. Topsoil removal and some earthworks have been completed.
18:20 Nearby land being used by the contractor for deposition and storage of material.
20:00 Approaching Ballyhanedin Road, which will pass over the new road on a bridge, yet to be built. The new road runs parallel and very close to the existing A6 along here, but at a lower elevation. The existing A6 will remain in situ here for local access.
21:30 One of the stretches where no work has yet taken place.
22:50 Approaching Gortilea Road, which will be bridged over the new road. The new road is still running parallel to the existing road here.
24:00 Future accommodation underpass being built, for agricultural access. The new road will eventually run over the top of it. The contractor is building some structures, like this one, in isolation as time permits in order to maximise the efficient spread of resources across the four-year duration of the project.
25:30 Another long stretch where work has yet to begin.
26:30 Approaching the future Claudy junction at Baranailt Road. From this point on the new road subsumes the existing A6 which we refer to as an “online” upgrade. The new road here will be built up on an embankment and bridged over Baranailt Road.
27:10 Site of the future bridge over Baranailt Road. Work has yet to begin, but the footprint of the sliproads is evident in the fence lines.
30:40 Gulf Road, where there will be another grade-separated junction to be known as Killaloo junction. Gulf Road will be bridged over the new road at this point, which is running online.
32:30 The junction visible here, plus the next one on the right, will both be stopped-up, with no access to the upgraded A6.
33:20 Passing Cumber Presbyterian Church. Due to the tight curve of the existing road, and the steep Faughan river valley to the left, the new road will require cutting into the hill on the right-hand edge of the current road. The lay-by on the left marks the route of the A6 prior to the previous (1960s) upgrade. It will be removed.
35:30 Burntollet bridges (old and new), one of the most constricted points in the whole project. The limitations imposed by the protected river and woodlands on either side mean that the new road has to pass directly over (and replace) both of the existing bridges.
36:10 Land clearance for a new cutting in the side of the hill to accommodate the new, wider road.
38:00 Land being cleared on the right is for a new stretch of local road to connect Ervey Road to Tamnaherin Road, parallel to the new road, to preserve local access.
39:00 Future site of Tamnaherin Road grade-separated junction. At this point the new road diverges from the existing A6 to the right and becomes an “offline” upgrade again. The new dual-carriageway will be built up on an embankment here and bridged over the junction. The steep incline to the left, not that obvious in the aerial view, makes the planning of the temporary traffic management here a real headache. The loop of road to the left up ahead will be removed, with the new road taking a more gentle line to the right.
41:10 Route of the new road heading away from the current A6 close to the Belfray Inn. At this point it has to cross Liberty Glen, a steep stream-carved valley, which will require a significant bridge almost 200 metres long, the longest on the entire scheme.
43:00 The “temporary” terminus of the scheme at Tirbracken Road in Drumahoe. The plan is that the road will eventually be continued to the A2 Maydown Road, but will stop here for now. The two sliproads will be built, but not the bridge over Tirbracken Road. This is likely to become a traffic bottleneck once the road is finished – though the time lost here is likely to be more than offset by the time gained from the 30 km of new dual-carriageway from Dungiven, not to mention the significant safety improvements.

20 May 2019: Last week I was honoured to be invited up to the site by the contractor (Sacyr, Wills Bros and Somague consortium) and was given a guided tour of the whole length of the scheme, from Drumahoe to Dungiven. From the point of view of the road user, there are long stretches of the scheme where little seems to be happening other than site clearance. However, having seen the scheme up close it is clear that a lot of heavy earthworks and engineering are happening, but in many cases in places which are not easily visible from the current road. A lot of staff were evident all over the scheme, a good proportion of whom seem to be from the local area. The biggest single earthwork so far is the huge cutting through Ovil Hill near Foreglen. Work here has been progressing for some months now. One reason it is happening now is that the contractor is extracting a lot of good stone from the cut which is being sorted and sized and stored for use elsewhere on the scheme. Re-using rock in this way means that very little stone will have to be brought in from quarries, thus reducing the overall environmental impact of the scheme. Earthworks are also underway at various points on the scheme including at the Drumahoe end where the embankments for the off- and on-slips to the terminal Lismacarol Roundabout are now in place. On the offline stretch from Claudy to Dungiven earthworks are underway at various points, including cut-and-fill operations (where soft or low-quality material is dug out and replaced with higher-quality material suitable for building on), and further cuttings and embankments. Some concrete structures are also underway, including a box structure that will take Altagarron Road beneath the new dual-carriageway and a new agricultural underpass near Claudy. Further site clearance work has also been taking place on what will be the Dungiven Bypass. We are still three years away from anticipated completion, but so far a lot of work has taken place on what is the largest single road project ever undertaken in Northern Ireland. Thank you to the contractor for a most enjoyable visit. I include a number of photographs below.

Pic 1: At the start of the scheme at Drumahoe, the dual-carriageway will commence at a Lismacarol Roundabout to be located on Tirbracken Road. The future plan is to extend the new road over the roundabout towards Maydown, but for now the two carriageways are going to terminate on the future sliproads. This is the view towards the site of the future roundabout on Tirbacken Road from what will be the eastbound onslip. The future westbound offslip will be located near the bank visible on the extreme left. The flat area in between will be left clear for the future extension of the dual-carriageway. 15 May 2019 [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 2: This is the view south east along the route of the future road near The Cross (Belfray Inn area) on 15 May 2019. The road runs offline here, with the existing A6 on the right to remain in-situ for local access. The large depression ahead of the camera is Liberty Glen, which will eventually be spanned by a large (approx 200 metre long) bridge. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 3: This is the view of Liberty Glen looking north-east from the existing A6 on 15 May 2019. Pic 2 was taken from the large mound visible on the extreme left. The new dual-carriageway will cross the glen on a new bridge across the centre of the shot here. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 4: Moving to Burntollet, one of the most constricted parts of the whole scheme, this is the existing A6 bridge as seen on 15 May 2019. This bridge will be demolished, along with the adjacent older bridge, and replaced with a much wider structure which will also be about three metres higher than the current bridge. When this bridge was built in the mid 20th century, the river beneath was straightened and lined with concrete walls. This is no longer regarded as environmentally good practice, so the new bridge will also involve removing all the concrete visible here and restoring a more natural earth riverbank along with a new pedestrian path. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 5: Moving much further east, to the area just east of Claudy, this is a new agricultural underpass being built to take a farm lane beneath the new dual-carriageway. At this point the new road will run adjacent to the existing road (which in this shot runs left-right beyond the trees), which will remain in-situ. 15 May 2019 [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 6: Slightly further east than pic 5, this is the view east along the route of the new road as seen from Ballyhanedin Road on 15 May 2019. The topsoil has been cleared here and earthworks are underway. The current A6, on the left, will remain in place for local traffic while the new road will run at a lower elevation beside it. Ballyhanedin Road will eventually be carried over the new road on a bridge to be sited just ahead. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 7: Near the village of Foreglen, Altagarron Road is going to remain in place, but is currently closed to allow the construction of this new box structure, which is big enough to carry two double-decker buses. The future dual-carriageway will run over the top of this structure at an oblique angle while Altagarron Road will pass through it. This view is looking south-west. 15 May 2019 [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 8: Just east of Foreglen the dual-carriageway passes through Ovil Hill which requires an enormous cutting, work on which is now well underway. This view shows one of several excavators busy removing rocks which have been loosened by explosives. Although this is a very large cutting, it is yielding an enormous quantity of good quality rock which is going to be sorted and used elsewhere on the scheme. This means that very little rock needs to be imported from quarries elsewhere, greatly reducing the overall environmental impact of the scheme. 15 May 2019 [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 9: Another view of the Ovil Hill cutting taking shape on 15 May 2019, looking west. The material on the right is rock that has been removed from the cutting and has been sorted by size and is now being stored to await use elsewhere on the project. If you drive through here in three years time, reflect on the effort that it has taken to create this cutting! [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 10: Moving now to the Dungiven Bypass element of the scheme, this is the view east from near Feeny Road on 15 May 2019. There will be a grade-separated junction on Feeny Road giving access to Dungiven from the west. The road will travel in a shallow cutting here, which has already been excavated. Note the temporary drainage channel on the left. These channels are equipped with structures designed to filter out silt so that it doesn't make its way into local watercourses during construction. [Wesley Johnston]

Pic 11: This final view shows the view east from Teeavan Road, Dungiven, on 15 May 2019. The earthworks are well underway here. The new road will be carried over the river in the depression just ahead on a bridge, before entering a cutting beyond which will carry the road to its terminus at a new roundabout on the current A6 just east of Dungiven (Magherabuoy roundabout). [Wesley Johnston]

24 Mar 2019: In the last update I commented on the difficulty of getting info on this scheme, but since my previous update the contractor has updated their web site. The contractor confirms that site clearance has now been completed on the entire scheme except for an area in an area in Brackfield and Burntollet. Fencing works have also taken place in the past few weeks on between Tamnaherin and Gortilea; between Ballyhaedin and Munreery; from Feeny Road to Dungiven and near Claudy towards Burntollet. Utility diversions along the route are partially completed with some still to be carried out. Earthworks are underway at Drumahoe, Foreglen, Munreery and Derrychrier and these are for three public road bridges (Gortilea overbridge, Ballyhanedin overbridge and Altagarron underbridge) and one accommodation bridge underbridge. By the end of March temporary bridges over the Owenbeg and Owenrigh Rivers will be completed, presumably to provide site access for the contractor. Finally, access tracks are being built between Killunaght and Ovil Hill and Feeny towards Dungiven and Munreery. Again these are probably for the contractor to gain access to the site. The update also contains a video – I can't get it to play on my computer, but have a look as it might work on yours!

6 Mar 2019: Work has been undereay on this scheme now for six months, but it is extremely difficult to get information on progress. The contractor has a web site at https://a6d2d.com but it is not being updated frequently or in any useful detail, with the last construction update being posted almost three months ago. This requires us to instead depend on the observations of local people on Twitter, which are proving much more useful, especially Paul McCloskey whose pictures I include below with his permission. As far as I can ascertain, work seems to be taking place at Drumahoe park-and-ride site; on a major cutting south of of Foreglen and on the Dungiven Bypass section, shown in the photos below. Work also seems to be taking place at various points along the online stretch at the Derry end of the scheme, between Claudy and Tamnaherin Road past Burntollet. The whole scheme is due to be completed three years from now, in spring 2022.

Pic 1 - View of the future A6 Dungiven Bypass seen looking west from the junction of Magheramore Road and Teeavan Road on 3 March 2019, showing both earthworks and what appears to be watercourse diversions. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 2 - Zoomed in version of the previous photo, showing the future A6 Dungiven Bypass with watercourse works underway and other earthworks in the distance on 3 March 2019. [Paul McCloskey]

Pic 3 - View east along the route of the future A6 Dungiven Bypass seen from the junction of Magheramore Road and Teeavan Road (ie the same location as above but turned 180° round) on 3 March 2019. A cutting will be excavated here. [Paul McCloskey]

16 Jan 2019: Work is underway again after the Christmas break. According to the contractor, the work before Christmas focused on fencing along the route of the road and on the necessary environmental surveys along the route. This means that site clearance works have not yet commenced on much of the route. Works carried out before Christmas also included culverts at Foreglen and Drumahoe, and the installation of temporary bailey bridges over the Owenbeg and Owenrigh rivers to faciliate construction traffic. More significant earthworks are underway at Foreglen, and these can be seen in this YouTube video posted by the contractor three weeks ago. It shows works commencing on the route of the new road above Foreglen GAA club (visible at 1:10). The strip of gravel seen here is on the route of the new dual-carriageway. However, its narrow width suggests that at this stage this gravel is intended to faciliate the movement of construction traffic, rather than being the foundation of the future road. At 1:30 the camera swings round to show diggers working at an excavation. This is the beginning of a much larger cutting that needs to be made in the hillside here. The contractor is starting earthworks at this point and intends to work westwards, ie towards Claudy. With work having now been underway for about four months here's hoping that we see further movement on the ground before too long.

11 Nov 2018: Slowly but surely work appears to be progressing on this scheme and utility diversions (relocating pipes, cables etc) and earthworks have now started. Earthworks appear to be underway at both Foreglen, around half way along the road, and at the western terminus of the scheme at Tirbracken Road in Drumahoe. The works at Foreglen have required the closure of two local road (Crock na Brock Road and Altagarron Road) because a bridge is due to be constructed at that location. The material at the location (peat) is too soft for a bridge, so these initial works involve removing the soft material and the two local roads cross over the site and will be closed for about six months. At the Dungiven end, the contractor has constucted a temporary diversion for the B74 Feeny Road in the locality of the future Dungiven West grade-separated junction. This is presumably to allow the junction to be constructed on the site of the current road. According to the contractor, the next two weeks will see geotechnical works taking place at various points along the western part of the scheme which is to be an online upgrade of the current road. Geotechnical works are essentially to determine the exact nature of the material that lies under the ground and informs detailed design decisions. With thanks to Paul McCloskey for information on the scheme.

6 Oct 2018: The official 'sod-cutting' ceremony took place on the scheme on 26 September (photo 1 below). There is still not much to see on the scheme with the exception of an area around Foreglen where substantial earthworks now appear to be underway (photo 2 below). Motorists are likely to see work progressively ramping up all along the 25 km route over the autumn and winter months, with the initial focus probably being on earthworks (cuttings and embankments) and construction of new culverts for watercourses. Work on the Dungiven Bypass itself will apparently be phased later in the schedule, so may not begin straight away. Nevertheless, a site yard also seems to have been established at Magheramore Road just outside Dungiven. With thanks to Paul McCloskey for information on progress and photos.

Photo 1: Causeway Coast and Glens Mayor Brenda Chivers, Northern Divisional Roads Manager David Porter and Derry City and Strabane Deputy Mayor Derek Hussey cut the first sod on construction of the A6 Dungiven to Drumahoe [DFI]

Photo 2: Earthworks underway at Foreglen on 28 Sep 2018. [Paul McCloskey]

18 Sep 2018: Earthworks didn't seem to start in August as the grapevine had suggested, but road users need not be concerned - I now understand that there is to be a sod-cutting ceremony within the next week or so (possibly 26th September). Since the contract was awarded six months ago detailed design work has been taking place. This is a substantial piece of work, involving site surveys all along the scheme to determine things like the exact depth to bedrock, earth composition etc. In addition, further environmental surveys have been taking place. Fencing off the land that has been vested for the scheme is a huge task - the scheme is 30 km long - and as a consequence the process of fencing is going to take until April 2019 to complete. A public consultation (by the contractor, not DFI Roads) took place at the end of June to inform landowners about things like phasing. You can see the panels here. While this also suggested that work would begin in August, it states that "sections" of the new road would be open by Autumn 2021, with overall completion in Spring 2022. I'm told that advanced works have been taking place near Foreglen and also near the site of the future Magherabuoy roundabout in Dungiven. These may be site yards in development. With thanks to the ever-vigilant Paul McCloskey for information on the works to far.

21 Jul 2018: Still nothing much evident on the ground, but things are moving fairly quickly towards earthworks finally getting underway on this scheme. Environmental walkover work has been taking place since the contractor was appointed in March, as well as detailed ground investigation works that will facilitate the detailed design (questions like "So, exactly how far below the ground is the bedrock at the eastern abutment of the bridge?"). The word on the street is that construction work is going to begin in mid August with the creation of a site yard at Feeny Road near Dungiven with construction due to begin there first. After that work will take around three to four years to complete. It's possible that sections of the road, eg the Dungiven Bypass, may be opened earlier than this. The contractor has also followed recent good practice and set up a dedicated web site for the scheme at http://a6d2d.com. The contractor has also put up a video on YouTube that consists of a joint fly-through/drive-through of the whole road. If the road seems a bit like a rollercoaster it's because the virtual car is travelling at about 180mph in order to cover the length of the scheme in the 6 minutes of the video!

24 Jun 2018: I spoke to an engineer recently who is working on this scheme and he confirmed that detailed design work is underway as we thought. The word on the street is that construction earthworks may begin during July, though that has not been confirmed officially. As I said in the previous update, the first visible step will be for the contractor to establish site yards at various points along the site. Once that happens, the bulldozers will follow fairly soon. Meanwhile, DFI are holding information events this week as follows: Wednesday 27 June 12pm-8pm in Owenbeg GAA Club, 471 Foreglen Road, Dungiven, BT47 7PW; and Thursday 28 June 12pm-8pm in The Belfray Country Inn, 171 Glenshane Road, Derry, BT47 3EN. The events are mainly intended to allow affected landowners to find out more about the timetable of works and when their land, specifically, will be affected. However, all members of the public are invited to turn up to find out more about the scheme and have their questions answered.

3 Apr 2018: The DFI awarded the construction contract for phase 1 (25.5 km from Dungiven to Drumahoe, ie the bulk of the scheme) on 28 March 2018. The contractor is a consortium of Sacyr, Wills Bros and Somague (congratulations to them). These companies hail from Spain, Rep of Ireland and Portugal respectively and have not been much involved in road building in Northern Ireland hitherto. The total cost of phase 1 of the project is given as £220m (a bit less than the last estimate), which includes both the construction cost and the cost of buying the necessary land. The cost may not include the planning work that has taken place over the past 13 years since the scheme was first announced, so this may not represent the overall cost of the scheme. The status of phase 2, essentially a bypass of the Waterside in Derry, is less clear since the route is affected by an illegal landfill whose status is still unresolved. It would not entirely suprise me if phase 2 never gets built as it will become much less of a priority once phase 1 has opened and may struggle to get to the head of the queue for future funding. In any case, I've marked the scheme as "underway" even though proper construction has not yet begun (work visible to date is part of a separate site clearance contract). This is for two reasons. Firstly, it will take a number of weeks for the contractor to mobilise their resources and appoint subcontractors for a scheme of this size, and secondly the contract includes an element of final design work which will need done first. The first signs I would expect to see are the provision of site yards at various points along the route, followed by the arrival of heavy plant equipment and then the commencement of earthworks. Work is due to take approximately four years, so we could expect to see completion during 2022. To clarify - this scheme will see 25.5 km of dual-carriageway built east from Derry, which compliments the separate stretch of new dual-carriageway under construction on the A6 west from Randalstown to Toome. A number of people have asked what is happening to the gap that will remain in the middle, ie the long stretch of single-carriageway from Castledawson to Dungiven via Glenshane Pass. The answer is that DFI currently have no plans to dual this stretch, which is currently the stretch with the lowest traffic levels on the A6. However, there is strong symbolism associated with having continuous dual-carriageways between our two largest cities, so the pressure to plan an upgrade of this stretch will likely be sustained.

13 Mar 2018: The design-and-build construction tender has not yet been awarded, although it is now over a year since it was advertised. The word on the street is that the contractor will be appointed within the next few weeks which could see construction work commence before the summer, depending on how much final design work needs to be done (finalising the design is part of the construction contract). The Vesting order was "made" on 15 August last year, and ownership of the land formally transferred to DFI on 19 September. Meanwhile, an advance siteworks contract has been underway since late last year. This primarily involves vegetation clearance, since trees must be felled by 1 March, the start of the bird nesting season. The photos below show examples of this work. It is most noticeable on the western half of the scheme, between Claudy and Drumahoe, perhaps because this section is to be built as an online upgrade of the existing road. The eastern part, from Claudy to Dungiven, is generally offline and hence not as immediately obvious from the current A6. Archaeological surveys are also underway and geotechnical and ecological surveys have been completed. The scheme will run from Dungiven (including a bypass of the town) to Drumahoe, with the "Waterside Bypass" stretch at the Derry end to be built at an undefined point in the future. The total cost of this phase will be £230-255m and will take "up to four years" to complete, so we could expect to see completion during 2022. This will therefore be the most expensive single road scheme ever undertaken in Northern Ireland (not counting the A5 which has yet to commence), the previous record holder being the 2010 A1 Newry Bypass at £165m. I am very grateful that so many people have emailed and tweeted me with updates on the works along this stretch. There is a real sense of anticipation - it is clearly an exciting time for the North West.

Vegetation clearance underway on the A6 at Tamnaherin Road, about 2 miles outside Derry. The house visible ahead will also be demolished for the new road which will run roughly where the photographer is standing. 19 Feb 2018. [Anonymous contributor]

Same location as previously, but looking east showing vegetation clearance well advanced at Tamnaherin Road on 19 Feb 2018. At this point, the current road (on the right) will be subsumed by the new dual-carriageway. [Anonymous contributor].

At the opposite end of the scheme this view shows egetation clearance well advanced at Magherabuoy, Dungiven, where the new dual-carriageway will terminate at a roundabout. 12 Mar 2018. [Paul McCloskey]

5 Sep 2017: With all the publicity being stolen by the other end of the A6 at Toome and its legal difficulties, this scheme from Derry to Dungiven has been quietly advancing to the point of being not too far off commencement. The tender has now been out for over 7 months, so I would expect to see a contractor appointed before the end of 2017. For clarity, the tender is for the stretch of the A6 from Drumahoe to Dungiven only, including the Dungiven Bypass but NOT including the "Waterside Bypass" stretch from Drumahoe to the A2 at Gransha. The reason for this hasn't been widely discussed, but is likely to be related to the unresolved illegal dump at Mobuoy Road, which the route of the new road traverses, and perhaps also the potential for some money to be freed up in the short term by the delayed stretch of the A6 west of Toome. On 15 August 2017 DFI "made" the Vesting Order for the scheme. The Vesting Order is the legal document that transfers ownership of the required land to DFI (an independent body deciding the compensation due to landowners). It exists in draft form throughout the public inquiry stage so that all those affected can see what is proposed, but the act of "making" the Vesting Order is the moment it is triggered and ownership actually changes hands. Since doing this will immediately generate a lot of large bills for DFI, they would not do this until they were confident that work was going to commence in the short term. So this suggests that they are going to begin work soon, perhaps earlier than my previously predicted date of 2019. The scheme has already got at least a partial funding allocation - enough to begin, anyway - and hence commencement does not depend on the existence of an Executive. (Incidentally, it is surely not a coincidence that the Vesting Order was made on the same day as the A6 Toome legal hearing - perhaps DFI trying to make sure that there was at least some good news for the A6 on that date.) Finally, DFI have released a new document for the general public detailing what is being proposed. This includes an image showing how the "temporary" (!!!) terminus at Drumahoe will look, and also revealing that it is to be known as "Lismacarol Roundabout". Lismacarol could well become the Broadway or Sandyknowes of the North West, so expect to hear the name mentioned a lot in traffic reports in the coming years. At the other end, we now know that the roundabout east of Dungiven is to be known as "Magherabuoy Roundabout".

How the "temporary" terminus of the A6 at Drumahoe will look. [DFI Roads]

26 Feb 2017: The tender for design and construction of the bulk of this scheme was advertised on Tuesday, 21 February. The tender specifices the stretch from "Dungiven to Drumahoe" including the Dungiven Bypass, so in the strip map above that's everything from the new "Dungiven East" roundabout up to the "Drumahoe" grade-separated junction, ie only omitting the bypass of the Waterside and connection to the A2 at Gransha. The tender specifices "four" grade-separated junctions which implies that the Drumahoe junction will be built as an at-grade roundabout without bridges and sliproads. If so, that makes sense as in Northern Ireland we already have far too many untidy, unfinished junctions without adding yet another one. The value given is £160m (which doesn't include design work to date or purchase of land). That still seems an optimistically low figure to me, but given that the engineers in DFI know what they are doing I am willing to suspend disbelief on this for the time being! Duration is given as 36 months which I would consider normal for construction of a road of this complexity in Northern Ireland. One cannot ignore the timing of this tender release, which has come just over a week before an Assembly election, but it also has to be said that it is entirely consistent with the recent history of this scheme which has got a (partial) budget allocation and has for some time looked likely to commence on the ground by around 2019. The tender is probably a "design and build" tender with a split between the two, so even if a contractor is appointed they will still have a lot of work to do to complete a detailed design, and there is no guarantee from a contractural standpoint that the road will be built. But this is still probably the closest we have come to getting a bypass of Dungiven for several decades. Provided it doesn't get delayed by a legal challenge from environmentalists, as has happened on the A5 and the eastern poortion of the A6, commencement around 2019 and completion around 2022 seems quite plausible.

8 Feb 2017: In December 2015 the two A6 schemes (this one, plus the Randalstown-Castledawson scheme) were given a total cash allocation of £258m for the five years up to 2020/21. Since we know that the Randalstown scheme is currently estimated to cost £160m (in August 2016) that leaves a surplus of £98m that could be used for this scheme. The total cost of this scheme was last stated to be £390-420m in 2014. So the funding allocated up to 2020/21 is enough to build about a quarter of the scheme. That could still allow work to begin close to the end of that time period, on the assumption that further funds would be made available beyond 2020/21. However, the Minister has consistently suggested that the scheme is likely to be broken into sections and built as money is available, and that work would begin at the Dungiven end and work towards Derry. For the past year the question has been how much of the road could be built in the first phase. Given that the road has passed its public inquiry and is now simply awaiting funding and a contractor, work on the first phase could begin as soon as those two items could be put in place. With that in mind, this week a construciton tender appeared on the DFI's "future tender" list for a scheme called "A6 Londonderry to Dungiven Dualling (Phase 1, Drumahoe to Dungiven)" which is for "25.5km" of dual-carriageway with a total cost of £150-170m and a tender release date of February 2017. This suggests that the plan is to build everything except for the 5.3km "Waterside bypass" stretch at the Derry end, which coincidentally is home to the notorious Mobuoy Road illegal dumping site that the route of the road traverses. Three points need to be made about this. Firstly, the timing of the tender release in the final weeks of the current Executive is surely not a coincidence. I get the impression that the current Minister is very keen to make sure this scheme is progressed as far as possible before he loses his job prior to the election. Secondly, the cost of the scheme is greater than the amount of money actually approved by the Executive for the A6 up to 2020/21. When I asked one of the Minister's advisors about this point (see this Tweet and replies) he confirmed that discussions had taken place behind the schenes about getting further funding, but that nothing had actually been approved by the Executive. So I would say IF the election results in a new Executive being successfully formed, and IF Sinn Fein are as influential in that one as they are in the current one, then such funding could well be forthcoming. But that's something we can't say until we see the election result and whether the DUP and Sinn Fein can resolve what looks like a significant rift. Thirdly, the tender value of £150-170m seems low to me for over 25 km of dual-carriageway. Even taking account of the fact that this is the construction cost, and does not include design and land costs, it still seems quite optimistic to me that that much road could be built for £170m. The tender represents over 80% of a scheme whose total cost (including design and land) was estimated in December 2014 to be £390-420m. But I imagine the folks at TransportNI know what they are doing so we shall have to wait and see. Barring a major change to the functioning of Stormont, it is quite plausible that work on this scheme will begin by the 2019/20 financial year as I have said in previous updates.

19 Oct 2016: It has been eight months since I updated this page, mainly because very little has publicly been said about it. We know that the Minister has enough money over the next four years to proceed with some, but not all, of this scheme (about 30% of the required funds are available up to 2020/21). He has already said that he intends to go ahead with the Dungiven Bypass, probably around 2019, and thereafter to work west towards Derry as far as possible from there, but that the extent of this will depend on how much can be built with the money available. There is due to be an autumn budget statement within the next month or so that could potentially make some more money available for this scheme, but that is by no means certain. In a Written Answer in the Assembly in late September (AQW 2761/16-21) the Minister said "Work is underway to determine the extent of the A6 Derry to Dungiven Dualling scheme that can be delivered within the 2015 Budget Statement allocations, with priority being given to commencing construction with a bypass of Dungiven and progressing westwards towards Drumahoe" which has been the official line since Michelle McIlveen was Minister. However, in a Written Answer in July (AQW 1095/16-21) the Minister did note that "in May of this year [2016] my Department appointed consultants to assist with the procurement and delivery of this scheme" which was around the time he became Minister and seems to represent some concrete intention. Meanwhile, the Department for Infrastructure's Business Plan was published last week, and it gives some further guidance on when we might know more. It states a goal to "Develop and agree the procurement strategy" for this scheme and sets a target for March 2017. I would take "procurement strategy" to be offical speak for "figure out how much money we have, what we can built with it and when". So on the basis of all the above I think we might have some more information at the time of the autumn statement, and then further clarity by the Spring of next year.

The only other outstanding issue is the Mobuoy Road controversy, basically where a huge amount of illegally dumped waste was found buried along a short part the route of the road at the Derry end. This will need dealt with before work can begin, not least because it was placed there illegally, but also for practical reasons, in that the proposed road is in a cutting at the point in question. Responsibility ultimately lies with DAERA, not the DfI, but it is still an issue for DfI as it directly affects the A6 scheme. In a Written Answer in July (AQW 394/16-21) the Minister explained that "Discussions remain ongoing with the DAERA which is currently considering the management of the site and long-term options for remedial measures. My Department’s TransportNI will align any proposed works with any potential remediation solutions." He also noted that "I am content that, should the contamination issue remain unresolved when the A6 dualling is being constructed, cost effective measures can be deployed to remedy the undesirable effects of the waste."

24 Feb 2016: The DRD has finally published its Departmental Statement into this project. After the road has been planned and designed, it is usually put to a public inquiry. For this scheme that happened in September/October 2012. After that, the Inspector writes a report with recommendations in it and gives it to the DRD. This happened around March 2013. The DRD then study the recommendations and, when they are happy that they have dealt with every issue, publish their response - this is the "Departmental Statement" which was issued today along with the Inspector's Report after almost three years. Why is the Departmental Statement significant? Because, while the road has been in planning for years, this is the moment when the decision to proceed is formally (legally) taken. All that needs to happen now is that funding is allocated to the road and a contractor has to be appointed through a tendering process. This is the complication - there is currently no formal funding allocation, though the Executive did allocate funding for the next five years to the A6 generally in December. Rather than repeating myself, I invite you to read the 20 December update below for the implications of this. Suffice to say that lack of funding for the whole scheme means it will probably not happen at once - the Dungiven Bypass will likely be constructed first, along with a bit more - and the wording of the Minister's press release suggests that the most likely stretch is a section immediately to the west of Dungiven, perhaps as far as Claudy (her wording was "It is envisaged that priority will be given to construction from Dungiven towards Londonderry"). But this has yet to be confirmed. The Inspector's Report largely accepts the DRD's proposals for the road, including the route for the Dungiven Bypass which caused so much controversy at the Inquiry. This route was also backed up by the DRD's subsequent research and that of an independent consultant who then checked the DRD's work. So the scheme will be going ahead largely as planned.

29 Jan 2016: In the previous updted I reiterated that there seems to be enough money to build some, but not all, of this scheme over the next five years. The assumption is that the Dungiven Bypass will go ahead, but there seems to be money to build a bit more than that. So the question is, what will be built? In a Writtern Answer in the Assembly this week (AQW 52772/11-16), the Minister said TransportNI "are currently reviewing the extent of this scheme which can be built with the funding allocations in the December 2015 Budget Statement.
Once I have received these reports and considered them in full, I will make a decision on how the scheme should proceed." So basically the engineers are working to answer this very question. There are various possibilities (eg all of Dungiven-Claudy; or perhaps Dungiven plus the Waterside "bypass" at the Derry end) but with so many options I'm not prepared to put my money on any particular variation just now! But she finished with the clearest indication yet that the Dungiven Bypass will be going ahead after half a century of waiting, saying "allocations for the 2017/18 – 2020/21 period will allow my Department to construct elements of the A6 Londonderry to Dungiven dualling scheme, which includes a bypass of Dungiven". Assuming it does go ahead, I think we're still perhaps three years away from construction starting on the Dungiven Bypass which I estimate could start in the 2019/20 financial year. Nothing is certain until the bulldozers move in, but it's looking promising.

11 Jan 2016: In my post a month ago (9 Dec, below) I expressed frustration with the time it has taken for the DRD to publish its response to the Public Inquiry, the report of which they received almost three years ago. I also gave some possible reasons. The DRD Minister was explicitly asked this question in the Assembly today, and she was adamant that the delay is the first of the three reasons I gave, namely ongoing work assessing alternative routes around Dungiven. It is worth quoting her at length. She said "One of the inspector's recommendations was that an alternative route for the Dungiven bypass be considered in sufficient detail to allow an informed comparison to be made between it and my Department's published route. Transport NI's project consultant subsequently reviewed the alternative route, and its findings endorsed my Department's published route. However, there was a view that that was not sufficiently independent and may not have given the alternative route a fair consideration, so an independent review of the alternative route was commissioned by my Department and has now been completed. Reports have been prepared outlining the findings of the review and addressing the other recommendations arising from the public inquiry. Once I have received those reports — I have not as yet — and get the opportunity, I will consider them in full and make a decision on how the scheme should proceed after that." There is no reason not to take this at face value, though I still think that the other two reasons I gave are probably also playing a role. Meanwhile, in the previous update (20 Dec, below) I commented about the implications of recent funding allocations for this scheme. I noted that there seemed to be enough money to build some, but not all, of this scheme over the next five years and this assessment was confirmed in the Assembly today when the Minister said the DRD "are reviewing the extent of the scheme which can be built with the funding allocations in the December 2015 Budget statement". It could be that they decide to progress the Dungiven Bypass alone, as I suggested below, but it may be that they decide to build a bit more, for example the whole bit from the Dungiven Bypass to Claudy. It sounds as if the Minister will be making an announcement on this in due course, though probably not in the immediate future.

20 Dec 2015: Three days ago the Finance Minister delivered her budget for the next financial year. This budget included funding of £21m in the 2016/17 financial year (April to March) for the A6 and also committed £57m, £60m, £60m and £60m for the following four years. Now, let's clarify that there are currently TWO A6 schemes - Derry to Dungiven, and Randalstown to Castledawson. The cash allocated is likely to mean the other A6 scheme, the one to build a dual-carriageway from Randalstown to Castledawson, is likely to go ahead around April 2016. That scheme is estimated to cost £140m, so the first three years of the aforementioned cash allocation should cover this. That means that there is still £120m allocated to the A6 for the final two years, and that could only be spent on this A6 scheme. I have blogged my thoughts on this in more detail here, but the bottom line is that I think we could see the A6 Dungiven Bypass detached from the main scheme and work get underway during the 2019/20 financial year. I need to stress that this is my own estimate - the DRD have not said anything about timescales for any of these schemes. The total estimated cost of the A6 Derry-Dungiven scheme is £420m, and the cash allocation above is much too low to allow all this to be built, but the cost of the Dungiven Bypass portion alone is only £65m, which is LESS than the £120m allocated for the last two of the next five years. So it's possible that the intention is to start the ENTIRE Derry-Dungiven scheme in 2019, and carry on beyond the five year period mentioned in the budget with further funding allocations at that time, or possibly before. But we shall see. For now, I think there's a reasonable chance that we're within three to four years of work beginning on the Dungiven Bypass.

9 Dec 2015: This scheme is still deafening in its silence. The Public Inquiry happened in autumn 2012 and it is now almost three years since the Inspector submitted his report to the DRD, and almost two years since the Minister said that he would be publishing the DRD's response (the Departmental Statement) shortly (see update 10 Feb 2014 below). It is inconceivable that it has taken the DRD three years to digest the report, so there must be something else holding it up. Some possibilities are (a) Consideration of the "alternative route in the vicinity of Dungiven" that the DRD keep alluding to when asked what is happening. Although the Inspector's report has not been published, it seems to have recommended consideration of an alternative route. It's possible, though I think unlikely, that consideration of this alternative route is taking this long. (b) That the scheme is being held up by political and financial considerations. The Executive has had conflicting priorities on road building due to insufficient cash to build everything desired, and both the A5 and York Street Interchange have seemed to be higher priorities in the Executive. The Minister may have been working on the basis that not publishing the Departmental Statement effectively parks the project and avoids questions about timescales getting more awkward. (c) The Mobuoy Road controversy. In June 2013 a large illegal landfill site was discovered at Mobuoy Road, near Londonderry with about 1.5 million tonnes of illegal waste in it. The site has still not been dealt with. It impacts on this scheme since part of the site is to be purchased by the DRD to build the A6 dual-carriageway (which would be in a cutting through much of the area in question), but also for flood control measures and some local road realignments. The scheme design was developed prior to the discovery of the site and so it did not take the illegal landfill into consideration. Although the DRD are adamant that the illegal landfill will not affect the project, it inevitably will because the site will have to be decontaminated in some shape or form before the road can be built. It's possible that delaying this project avoids this becoming a more toxic (excuse the pun) issue. Finally, while the DRD Minister did comment back in September 2014 that he had decided that the Dungiven Bypass "could" be decoupled from the rest of the scheme and implemented at an earlier date, nothing more has been said about this possibility. As the only town on the entire Belfast-Derry road that is not bypassed, and one that is experiencing significant air pollution and congestion, this really should be well up the priority list within DRD.

6 Dec 2014: Speaking in the Assembly three weeks ago, the Minister was asked about the scheme. He gave the current position as follows: "the inspector [at the 2012 public inquiry] has produced a report containing a number of recommendations. Those include a request to consider an alternative route in the vicinity of Dungiven.That work is continuing, and, when I am satisfied that all issues have been appropriately reviewed, a number of which are complex, I will issue a departmental statement." In previous updates I have expressed curiosity that it has taken so long to respond to the report of the public inquiry, since TransportNI have now had it for nearly two years. The comment in the Assembly implies that the main holdup is that an alternative route is being considered at Dungiven. Assessing an alternative route would generate a lot of work, for example new surveys, new cost estimation works and possibly new traffic surveys and modelling. So this could explain the delay. However, it has to be noted that the minutes of a TransportNI board meeting held on 1 October (but just published) say that the "Departmental Statement has been submitted to the Minister for his consideration in advance of an announcement on the way forward". The "Departmental Statement" is the formal name given to TransportNI's response to the report of the public inquiry, and this suggests that the statement was actually complete at the start of October and therefore that the work at Dungiven  is already completed. This made me suspect that the Minister was merely biding his time for an appropriate moment to announce the way forward. There was a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly last week about the Dungiven Bypass, which is one of the most anticipated components of this larger scheme. I had therefore expected that the Minister would use that debate to make some kind of an announcement. However he did not, instead stating that the work to assess the alternative route at Dungiven was "ongoing" and that he cannot give a timescale for these reasons: "I cannot pre-empt due process and my decision on the statutory orders [ie, whether and how he presses ahead with the scheme]. If that decision leads to the publication of the direction order [ie, whether he gives it the go-ahead], delivery of the scheme will be subject to final approval of the business case and be reliant on funding being made available by the Executive". I still believe that it is likely that the Dungiven Bypass component of the scheme will proceed ahead of the remainder. In his comments three weeks ago in the Assembly, the Minister gave the costs of the scheme as follows:
• Dungiven Bypass - £55m-£65m
• Dungiven to Maydown [Derry] - £290-£305m
• Maydown to Caw [upgrade of a short stretch of the A2 in Derry] - £45-£50m
This gives a total scheme cost of £390-£420m which is more than the figure of £350-£390m that has been quoted since 2011. This is very expensive, and it is unlikely in the current climate that this kind of money will be available in the near future.

14 Sep 2014: It has now been a year-and-a-half since the DRD Minister was given the inspector's report into the public inquiry into this scheme which was held in September and October 2012. In February 2014 he had indicated that he would make a statement "later this financial year", which presumably meant April 2014, but this date also came and went with no statement. So it has now been 18 months since he received the report, so it's getting a bit hard to explain the ongoing absence of any statement. One possibility is that Northern Ireland's financial situation is so uncertain, and with the way forward for the A5 scheme still not being clear, that the Minister does not want to rashly commit to a particular course of action that he may not be able to follow through with. Another possibility is that the Inquiry Inspector has identified an issue that is proving particularly lengthy to resolve. The Minister was asked about this very issue in the Assembly on 8 September, when he said "I am considering a response to [the Inspector's] recommendations and will issue the departmental statement in due course when I am satisfied that all issues, a number of which are complex, have been appropriately reviewed." This is very vague. Although he says some of the outstanding issues are "complex" this doesn't necessarily imply that this complexity is the root cause of the delay, which I tend to suspect is more to do with financial uncertainty. However, he did give great hope to the people of Dungiven - the only non-bypassed town on the whole Belfast to Derry route - by basically saying that the Dungiven Bypass will be built ahead of the whole scheme. When asked if he would consider "decoupling the bypass at Dungiven from the larger project" his reply was "I am happy to confirm that I have taken the decision that the various components of the entire scheme can be decoupled. Subject to the finance being made available and the other issues being resolved, we can proceed." That is as close to a commitment as I have seen to date and is a very positive sign that this is going to be what happens. So I think we can expect that when the Minister finally makes his statement, it will be to say that the scheme is to be broken into two parts - the Derry to Dungiven stretch, and the Dungiven Bypass with the latter to progress first.

10 Apr 2014: Based on the comment the Minister made in February 2014 (see below) I had expected us to have the Inspector's Report from the Public Inquiry and the DRD's Departmental Statement by now. This latter document is the one outlining how the DRD will respond to any recommendations the inspector made and setting out what they plan to do next. However, in the Assembly a few days ago the Minister was asked about the scheme and explained that "we are still considering the inspector's report arising out of the public inquiry.  The issues are not yet concluded, and we hope to make progress on outlining our thoughts on that in the not-too-distant future". So it seems we'll have to wait a bit longer. Certainly the political pressure on the Minister to detach the Dungiven Bypass element of the scheme and progress it before the rest of the scheme is great, and I would not be surprised if this is what eventually happens in the face of tight budgets.

19 Mar 2014: In the Assembly yesterday, the Minister gave an update on this scheme. This isn't the official statement that we're still anticipating in the near future (see previous update below), but is useful nonetheless. We have known since June 2012 that the DRD has prepared a plan to split the scheme into two bits, which would allow the Dungiven Bypass stretch to be built ahead of the rest of the scheme in the evening of full funding being an issue. In the Assembly today, he added that it would be possible to split the project into three by also separating off the upgrade of the short stretch of the existing A2 at the Derry end of the scheme (Maydown to Caw roundbout). In reality, this is a relatively tiny component of the whole scheme, so doesn't change that much. The long (approx 25km) stretch from Dungiven to Maydown roundabout constitutes the bulk of the scheme. We are still waiting for a more formal announcement within the next few weeks which should set out more clearly what the Minister intends to do next with this scheme.

10 Feb 2014: Ten days ago I commented that it was now some time since the DRD Minister had received the report from the Inspector of the Public Inquiry that sat in September 2012, and this week the Minister was asked about it via a Question for Written Answer. He said "I expect to make a Departmental Statement on the way forward later this financial year", which presumably means by the end of March 2014. A Departmental Statement is the document usually released along with the Inspector's Report and outlines how the DRD will respond to any recommendations in the Inspector's Report and sets out a decision on whether or not to proceed. However, this does not mean that the construction process would then begin, as the scheme then has to wait for legal orders to be made (eg, to buy the necessary land) and most importantly for funding from the Executive, which may not be forthcoming at this time since the Minister has previously indicated that he's unwilling to progress both the A5 and A6 schemes simultaneously.

31 Jan 2014: In my update on 15 April 2013 (below) I noted that the DRD Minister had received the report from the Inspector of the Public Inquiry that sat in September 2012. Experience of recent years is such that I anticipated that this would be published before the end of 2013, but this has not happened. They're not obliged to release it under any particular timescale, but I'm just flagging up the fact that they've now had it for almost ten months, which is quite a long time. Perhaps there is a reluctance to publish the report ahead of a funding announcement as this would simply draw attention to the fact that this is yet another scheme serving Derry that hasn't gone ahead! There is still nothing more on the suggestion that the Dungiven Bypass scheme might get split off and implemented at an earlier date than the rest of the scheme, despite ongoing local interest in the matter.

1 May 2013: In my previous update I commented that with the 12-18 month delay to the A5 project, the "Dungiven Bypass" element of this scheme must surely be high up the list of possible alternative schemes to be progressed in the meantime. In the Assembly yesterday the Minister seemed favourable to the idea when that precise question was put to him. He said "I am pleased to confirm that the design of the scheme allows for the Dungiven bypass to be taken forward and completed as the first phase of the scheme. It will provide 4·8 kilometres of dual carriageway bypassing Dungiven to the south at a total cost in the range of £60 million to £80 million. The construction of this element of the scheme would be dependent — and this is the key thing — on the availability of finance in subsequent periods." The last sentence is something he 'has to say' since the Executive has not yet agreed how the A5 money will be reallocated, but the first two sentences show that decoupling the Bypass section from the larger scheme is a distinct possibility. The main bit of work still to be done is the analysis of the Inspector's Report from last September's Public Inquiry which has been received but not published.

15 Apr 2013: According to a Question for Written Answer in the Assembly, the DRD Minister has now received the report from the Inspector at last September's Public Inquiry. This is almost exactly to the timescale predicted at the end of the Inquiry (see update below for 4 Oct) which is nice. The report will not be published just yet. Typically, the DRD take a few months to examine it and respond to any recommendations before publishing both the inspector's report and their response (called a "Departmental Statement") simultaneously. We could expect to see this before the end of 2013. Given the recent delays on the A5 project, the "Dungiven Bypass" element of this scheme (a small but critical part of the whole scheme) is surely high up on the list of possible schemes to be taken forward at an earlier date, so it is very timely that the Public Inquiry report has been received. Let us hope that there were not too many issues with the plans.

24 Oct 2012: For those with a particular interest in this scheme, Roads Service have just published transcripts of the six day Public Inquiry that took place a month ago. You can download them here. This is only the third time that I know of that Roads Service have published such transcripts (the first two being for the A55 at Knock and the A5 WTC) and is a very welcome development for public transparency. Happy reading!

4 Oct 2012: The Public Inquiry into this scheme took place as planned from 24th September to 2nd October, and finished on schedule having heard over 125 objections. The Inspector, JA Robb, will finish by conducting site visits on 9th and 10th October. The DRD say that they expect the Inspector to submit his report "before the end of March 2013", but it is important to note that it will not be published at that point. The DRD typically take a few months more to consider the recommendations and outline their response before publishing it. So we might expect to see it around the summer time next year. Detailed information about the objections, along with transcripts of the Public Inquiry are (or soon will be) available here. With thanks to Paul McCloskey. Some (including me!) are speculating that the unexpected delays to the A5 scheme over the past month might free up some money over the coming months that could potentially be redirected to the Dungiven Bypass element of this scheme. This is quite possible, since the Minister has already indicated that he is sympathetic to the idea of proceeding with the Dungiven Bypass ahead of the rest of the scheme. Watch this space.

26 Jun 2012: We now know that the Public Inquiry into this scheme will begin at 10am on 24 September 2012, in the Roe Park Hotel, 40 Drumrane Road, Limavady BT49 9LB. The Inspector will be JA Robb, who was also the Inspector for the A8 Larne Public Inquiry and the A6 Castledawson-Randalstown dualling Public Inquiry. Roads Service has also published their pre-Inquiry Departmental Statement, which sets out in considerable detail their case for building the road as proposed. This contains some interesting historical information and is worth a read for that reason alone. In another interesting development, speaking in the Assembly yesterday the DRD Minister gave a strong hint that the Dungiven Bypass section may be decoupled from the rest of the scheme and built separately. They had previously resisted this as it was anticipated that the entire A6 scheme would proceed before too long, and hence there was little to gain by dealing with Dungiven separately. However, as it now seems as if it could be some years before the scheme is built, there would now be merit in building the Dungiven Bypass scheme separately (see update below for 14 Feb 2012). The Minister said: "I can confirm that it will be possible to bring forward the draft statutory Orders for the construction of the bypass at Dungiven ahead of and without compromising the future delivery of the remainder of that scheme. However, this is, of course, all conditional on available funding." This is interesting news.

24 Jun 2012: The DRD Minister has announced that (not surprisingly) a Public Inquiry will be held into this scheme, since it attracted 122 objections during the consultation period between December 2011 and March 2012. The Inquiry will probably be held in late September, and further details are due to be released this week. This is later than anticipated last summer, but still welcome. There is currently no financial commitment to actually build the scheme, but it is important to keep progressing the scheme so that it is 'good to go' if and when money becomes available.

14 Feb 2012: Today saw a major announcement of how the money for roads will be spent over the next four years. This scheme was not among them. This was not surprising, but until now we have had at least hoped that it might begin around 2014/15 (see update below for 11 May 2011). Today's announcement means it won't commence until at least 2015. However, it is disappointing that the Minister has not at least chosen to press ahead with the Dungiven Bypass element of the scheme. Dungiven is the only town not bypassed on the entire A6, and all the traffic pollutes the village. However, it should be said in the Minister's defense that the scheme has not yet had its public inquiry, and this means even the Dungiven Bypass could not commence for at least a couple of years, even if it was decided to go ahead with it separately. The money that is available needs to be spent sooner than that timescale would allow.

8 Jan 2012: Roads Service will be holding the next round of public exhibitions into this scheme this month. As always, I would urge anyone with an interest in the scheme to turn up as this is a vital part of the process, and an opportunity to express your views. According to this press release, issued just before Christmas, the exhibition dates are:

  • 17 and 18 Jan 2012 - Dungiven Sports Pavilion, Chapel Road - 10am to 9pm
  • 24 and 25 Jan 2012 - YMCA, 51 Glenshane Road, Drumahoe - 10am to 9pm
  • 26 Jan 2012 - Strathfoyle Youth Centre, 13 Deramore Drive - 10am to 9pm

The deadline for comments and objections is 2 March 2012.
For those interested in history, this scheme page now contains links to multiple historical documents.

17 Dec 2011: The draft legal orders for this scheme were published on 14th December. These include the Environmental Statement (sets out what impact the scheme will have on society and the environment and is required by law). It also includes the draft legal order (required to build a new trunk road) and the vesting orders, part 1 and part 2 (which define whose land they will be buying to build the road) and some other documents. The Environmental Statement includes revised plans for the junction, which are interesting in that two junctions have been dropped entirely - which is excellent news as they merely provided superfluous links across to the existing A6 which will remain in place as a perfectly adequate route (presumably with a 60mph speed limit) for accessing all the properties along that stretch. The changes made since we were last given junction designs in May 2009 are as follows:

  • The layout of Killaloo junction west of Claudy has been amended slightly - I have altered the strip map above to reflect the new design.
  • Ballyhanedin Road junction east of Claudy has been dropped - the road will be bridged over the A6 but with no access to the A6.
  • Killunaght Road junction near Foreglen has been dropped - the road will be bridged over the A6 but with no access to the A6.

4 Jul 2011: The Minister has confirmed that the draft legal documents required to build the road will be published "later this year", and that the Public Inquiry will likely be held in Spring 2012, slightly later than expected in April. This does not imply that the road will go ahead any earlier than previously stated, merely that Roads Service want to press ahead with the process so that, subject to the Inquiry, construction of the road can go ahead once finance is available.

14 May 2011: Speaking at the Annual Dinner of the Chartered Institution of Highway Enginners Northern Ireland, the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Regional Development Malcolm McKibbin said "development work is proceeding on the A6 schemes and late changes to the draft budget mean that we should also be able to start construction in the last year of the budget period" (quoted in Plant & Civil Engineer, May 2011). There are two "A6 schemes" - this one, and the scheme to dual the A6 from Randalstown to Castledawson. The Minister's comments last month about Dungiven (see previous update) suggest that Mr McKibbin may be referring specifically to this scheme when he says that construction should be able to start, but it's possible he means both. Previously both schemes were delayed until at least 2015. The "last year of the budget period" is the financial year running from April 2014 to April 2015.

27 Apr 2011: The Minister has confirmed in a Written Answer that development work will proceed on this scheme over the next few years, despite there not being enough money to build it. In particular, he suggests that the draft legal documents required to build the road will be released in late 2011, and that the Public Inquiry is likely to take place in "late 2011/early 2012" - somewhat later than was anticipated last Autumn. He also implies again that the 2.5km Dungiven Bypass may be built ahead of the main scheme. The cost is now being given as "£350m-£390m", slightly higher than the figure of "£320-£390m" being quoted in late 2009.

7 Mar 2011: Roads Service have come into some new money, to the tune of £107m, and this press release suggests that some of it may be put towards the A6. The Minister does not say which of the two A6 schemes it refers to (Randalstown to Castledawson or Derry to Dungiven), but his comment that "the Dungiven Bypass will be the priority" suggests it is this scheme. The money is nowhere near enough to complete this entire scheme, so it is possible that the 2.5km Dungiven Bypass section may proceed before the rest of the scheme - but this is not stated, so we don't know. Dungiven is singled out because it is now the only town on the entire Belfast to Derry route that is not bypassed.

14 Jan 2011: Roads Service have revealed their budget for 2011-2015 and, due to lack of money, this scheme has now been put on hold, seemingly until at least 2015. The only note is that funding will be available to "continue development" of the project, but not actually build it. In the reduced funding climate all available monies are being funnelled into the A5 and A8 schemes.

19 Oct 2010: In a Written Answer in the Assembly, the Minister has said that the legal documents that are required (see update below on 16 Feb) will be published in early 2011, which represents a bit of slippage on the dates given earlier this year. The estimated date of the Public Inquiry is now being given as "summer 2011". Assuming the public inquiry passes the scheme, and subject to the availability of finance, the Minister is saying that work should begin in 2013. Due to the inevitable budget cuts in the coming months, the Minister for Finance has asked all other Ministers to suggest how their budgets could be cut. However the Minister for Regional Development is currently reluctant to suggest places were cuts could be made in his department, which makes it impossible to assess whether or not the 2013 date is realistic. Hopefully the situation will become clearer in the near future once firm decisions have been made. A number of "Health Impact Assessment" workshops were held in late September, and details can be found on the Roads Service web site. It's not immediately clear from the material on the web site what material impact this will have on the scheme.

18 Aug 2010: In a briefing to Derry City Council in July, Roads Service have said that work on this scheme is still expected to begin in "early 2013". However, we should not rely too much on this since the important budget decisions due to be taken in the coming months are likely to impact on roads.

16 Feb 2010: According to the Minister in the Assembly on 8 Feb 2010, design work is continuing and Roads Service hope to publish the draft Direction Order (basically the legal document giving permission to build a new main road) and the draft Vesting Order (the legal document needed to buy the land to build the road) "before the end of of 2010". The cost was re-stated, and has not changed, at £320m-£390m.

18 Jan 2010: The terminus of the new road at the Derry end will require changes to the A2 Clooney Road, mainly involving improving the alignment and standard, and removing one roundabout. A public exhibition of what is proposed will take place at The North West Teachers Centre, 24 Temple Road, Strathfoyle on Tuesday 19th January 5pm-9pm and Wednesday 20th January 1pm-9pm. I would encourage all those with an interest in the scheme to turn up as this is one of the main ways that the public can engage with the planners.

7 Jan 2010: According to a Written Answer in the Assembly in late December 2009, the current estimate of the cost of this scheme has risen to "£320m to £390m" which is a further increase on the "£320m" estimated in December 2008.

6 May 2009: The Minister announced the preferred route today. The new road will be built to dual-two lane standard, with 1 metre hard strips and no central reserve crossings. Starting at a new roundabout east of Dungiven, it will bypass Dungiven to the south before following an offline route for the first 10km. It will then join the existing A6 where it will be an online upgrade past Claudy until close to Drumahoe. It then heads cross country again to the north to join the existing A2 road at a new roundabout at Gransha. This is quite far north, so we could expect a large percentage of motorists will elect to leave the road at Drumahoe and use the existing A6 past Altnagelvin rather than go all the way up to Gransha. All seven intermediate junctions will be grade separated - six with a "compact" design and one (Drumahoe) with a larger layout. There may also be a westbound left-in/left-out junction at Burntollet, but the Road Service map is not clear enough to determine if this is true. I have put an approximate version of the route onto a Google Maps overlay, seen by clicking here. The press are reporting that construction will start in 2012 and last until 2016, but this is not stated in the Roads Service material. The official position late last year was construction commencing in 2013 subject to the availability of funding.

27 April 2009: Roads Service have said that the preferred route will be announced in early May, and details will be on display to the public at the following locations and dates:

  • 6 & 7 May 2009: Dungiven Community Hall, Chapel Road, Dungiven, 1pm to 9pm
  • 12 & 13 May 2009: YMCA Centre, 51 Glenshane Road, Drumahoe, 1pm to 9pm

All those with an interest in the scheme should be urged to turn up, as this is one of the key meetings to have your questions answered and raise any concerns. Representatives from Roads Service and the design company will be there.

16 Dec 2008: According to a Stormont Assembly written answer last week, the estimated cost of the scheme has now risen to £320m. It confirms that the preferred route is due to be announced in the Spring of 2009 and again tentatively suggests commencement may be around 2012/13.

10 Dec 2008: Roads Service published a 4-page leaflet on the scheme last month. It does not contain any new information, but confirms the timescale previously announced and provides a useful summary of the scheme.

21 Oct 2008: According to an Assembly written answer from 17 October, the scheme is still on schedule for commencement "during the 2012/13 financial year". The answer also states that the Dungiven Bypass portion of the scheme will take about 18 months to complete. There have been hints that this part of the scheme may progress early on in the scheme to ensure that it is open as soon as possible.

15 Jun 2008: According to this press release, the cost of the project has risen to £300m (up from £250m estimated in 2005). It also revealed that the preferred route is due to be announced in the summer of 2009 and that "over 100 people" are involved in the route development in one form or another. The press release has also said that Roads Service are now investigating how to provide a link from the A6 at Drumahoe to the A5 on the south side of the city. Such a link would almost certainly follow a new offline route. It is unclear if this link would be part of this scheme, or be a separate project.

24 May 2008: Roads Service are holding a series of public exhibitions between 20 and 28 May. They are using these to reveal the five chosen route corridors. Interestingly, some of these stray OUTSIDE the route corridor announced last year and thus there is now an "expanded" route corridor. At the Derry end it now looks almost certain that the road will tie in to the existing A2 between Caw and Maydown rather than the Crescent Link itself. At the Dungiven end two new routes for the bypass of the town are being considered, after complaints about the current route that will sever a GAA training ground. One of these passes further to the south, beyond the river, while the other passes to the north of the town. All the documents made available on the days are also online here, including more detailed versions of the above maps.

28 Apr 2008: The publication in April 2008 of the "Investment Delivery Plan for Roads" document has allayed fears that the scheme will be delayed, since it includes this scheme in the "Preparation pool" which contains schemes anticipated to begin within 5 years, ie by 2013.

8 Mar 2008: According to Roads Service, ground surveys on the chosen route corridor are underway. This will inform the decision on a preferred route within this corridor. Roads Service still have the scheme in their "preparation pool" (construction anticipated within 5 years or so) but with the recent announcements by Conor Murphy (see previous updates) it's still unclear what the timescale is.

5 Feb 2008: Conor Murphy has again denied that there is any slippage in the timetable for the project. He said that "it is not correct to state that there has been slippage on the A6 Derry to Dungiven project. Indeed in July 2007 I announced the appointment of consultants to examine options to enable the selection of a preferred route by spring 2009". There is no doubt that this is true, but it only refers to the first element of the project. The "slippage" being noted is in the timescale for completion of the project as a whole. When first announced,Roads Service were saying that the scheme would be delivered within the timetable of the Regional Strategic Transport Plan which ran from 2005-2015. Now, they are saying that it's going to be delivered within the timetable of the Investment Strategy 2008-2018. While it's only a time period, it still has the potential to delay the project by up to three years.

30 Dec 2007: Conor Murphy responded to the media reports last week by assuring business leaders that the scheme has NOT been cancelled and will proceed. However, while reassuring, his statement does seem to be a disguised attempt to sneak a revised timescale through. When the scheme was first announced in 2005, it was stated that it would be built within the timescale of the Regional Strategic Transportation Network Transport Plan 2015, ie by 2015. However in this week's statement, Conor Murphy now says that it will be built within the timescale of the draft Investment Strategy 2008-2018, ie by 2018. This subtle change means that the project could potentially be delayed by up to three years. This would seem inevitable give the level of financial committment required for the A5 dualling scheme.

24 Dec 2007: As has been noted by the media, this scheme is mysteriously missing from the Draft Investment Strategy 2008-2018 which was published in October. This Strategy (admittedly a draft) outlines the targets of spending of £3bn on roads over the next ten years. Under its list of "key milestones" it lists the A4 dualling scheme (Dungannon to Ballygawley), completion of the A1 dualling, completion of the M1, M2 and Westlink upgrades, the recently announced A5 dualling scheme (Londonderry to Aughnacloy) and the A8 dualling scheme (to Larne). However there is no mention of the A6 dualling scheme. According to Derry Chamber of Commerce, the DRD has said that the A6 scheme may be put on hold or delayed. This is speculation, but it is worth noting that the shortfall required in order to undertake the A5 dualling scheme is £260m. This is almost the same amount as the cost of this scheme. So it is possible that the Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy has decided to take the money from this scheme and use it to fund the A5 scheme instead. If so, and it is only guesswork, then it is likely to prompt a lot of debate on the subject.