A3 Armagh North and West Link

 

Status
Construction scheme (future)
Where
Construction of a new single-carriageway link road connecting the A3 Portadown Road round the north and west of the town to the A3 Monaghan Road.
Total Length
6.9km / 4.3 miles
Dates

2005 - Included in Regional Strategic Transport Plan

2006 - More details in Sub-Regional Transport Plan

Jun 2008 - Preferred route announced.

Construction after 2015 (as of Jan 2011)

(changed from "by 2013" as of April 2008)

Cost

£55m - £75m as of April 2010

(changed from £57m as of June 2008 itself changed from £28m)

Perhaps partly funded by private developers.

Photos
None as yet - please contact me if you have any
See Also

General area map

A28 Armagh East Link on this site

Map of route - PDF file - the outer, light blue, route.

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

This plan was introduced in the Regional Strategic Transport Plan of 2005, but little was clear as to exactly what it involved until the Sub-Regional Transport Plan of March 2006 was published. The road will form a roughly semi-circular route from the A3 Portadown Road east of the town round the north and west to the A3 Monaghan Road in the south west. It will not only act as a partial "ring road" for local traffic, but also greatly improve the connection between Monaghan and the Craigavon and Belfast areas.

The route originally proposed in the SRTP of 2006 followed the line of the railway line as far as the A28 Killylea Road. This route would have had a few issues, including the fact that it ran through the urban area of the city, rather than round it, and would have come very close indeed to St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral. Roads Service then looked at further options, including an "out of town" option that was much longer but lay entirely outside the urban area.

In June 2008 Roads Service announced that they had decided on this "out of town" option. The approximate route is shown in this Google Earth screenshot. See the "see also" links at the top of the page for a Roads Service map:

Approximate route of the proposed Armagh North and West Link as of June 2008.

The route as currently proposed will be single-carriageway, although it's not clear if it will include any 2+1 sections to allow safe overtaking. If it follows recent design trends, it will likely feature lots of roundabouts at the points where it meets other roads. The route is as follows:

  • Starting on the A3 Portadown Road close to the old railway crossing and heads west;
  • Crosses the B77 Loughgall Road;
  • Crosses the A29 Moy Road, then turns south;
  • Crosses the B115 Cathedral Road;
  • Crosses the A28 Killylea Road;
  • Terminates on the A3 Monaghan Road.

There is a further plan in the pipeline to build an Armagh East Link.

Following recent government policy that private developers should contribute to road schemes that are required due to their developments, it is possible that private developers will be made to foot at least part of the bill for this scheme. (This is achieved by making it a condition for planning permission).

Updates

9 Oct 2016: This scheme continues to be frustratingly vague, as it has done since 2011. In their report to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council in May 2016, TransportNI said "Consideration of options for a preferred line and junction strategy based on the ‘out of town’ corridor linking the A3 Portadown Road to the A3 Monaghan Road is continuing". Even if this is true, I think it would be very wrong to think htar there is a team of people somewhere working on this scheme. More likely it is on hold pending decisions elsewhere, as the next line implies: "It would not be appropriate to make a decision on the preferred route at this time, pending confirmation of proposals for the Mullinure shared education campus highlighted in the draft Armagh City Centre Masterplan 2030". The Mullinure area is the site of a large housing development but potentially also a leisure centre and school site. Such a large development would certainly need road infrastructure, so it easy to see why such a proposal might affect the design of the North and West Link. However, according to the notes of a meeting in February, "The Masterplan process has stalled temporarily due to issues among the external partners". So it's not clear when even plans for the Mullinure area will be put in any final form, leaving any further development of the Armagh North and West Link very vague indeed. I would not expect to hear much more on this for at least a couple of years.

18 Sep 2014: It's been nearly four years since the last update to this scheme, and it's now looking as if it has been put on hold. In the Assembly on 8 September, the DRD Minister said that continued consideration of the design of the Armagh North and West Link now involves "discussions with Deloitte, which has been appointed by Armagh City and District Council to develop a master plan for the Mullinure area" and goes on to comment that "it would not be appropriate to make a decision on the preferred route pending development of the master plan". The new super-councils come into existence on 1 April 2015 and these councils will take over responsibility for planning. This means that from April 2015, councils will have a much greater input into area plans than hitherto. While the DRD will still be responsible for roads, they do appear to be responding to this new reality by accepting an increased role for the councils when developing road proposals within urban areas, in this case Armagh. So I would speculate that we will not see many further announcements on this scheme until the aforementioned master plan has been published.

14 Jan 2011: The timetable for this scheme was always rather vague (in 2008 it was to be built by 2013). But the draft Roads Service budget revealed yesterday makes it clear that it cannot be built before 2015.

2 May 2010: Roads Service's web site is saying that Amey Consulting are currently working on a specimen (initial) design for the road. The cost has also been revised from £57m as of 2008 to the range £55m-£75m.

24 Nov 2008: Roads Service have released a leaflet about this scheme. The leaflet does not really tell us anything new, but it is a good summary of the scheme and confirms that it is still being considered for construction "within five years".

27 Jun 2008: In this press release on 24 June Roads Service announced their preferred route. The route is the "out of town" route, completely different from the route initially proposed in 2005. The original route ran along the route of the railway line and was 3.8km long. This new route runs some distance further out from the city on an entirely new route and is almost double the length at 6.9km. This has resulted in the cost more than doubling to £57m. It's not yet known where the junctions along the route will be located. Roads Service are giving the start of construction as "within five years".

28 Apr 2008: The strategy document "Investment Delivery Strategy for Roads" of April 2008 gives the timescale of this project as 2008-2013, but is not any more specific than this, implying that the date may be towards the 2013 end of the time period.

Nov 2006: In the Roads Service report to Armagh Council on 13 November 2006, Roads Service said that "as a result of public consulation" the area of study has been expanded to consider other route options. This implies public disattisfaction with the route as proposed above.