Strathroy Link Road, Omagh

 

Status
Construction scheme (completed)
Contractor: Fox Contracts
Scheme
New single-carriageway link road connecting the B48 Derry Road, Omagh (close to A5 junction) to U1526 Strathroy Road.
Total Length
0.91 km / 0.57 miles
Dates

Late 1980s - Included in 1987-2002 Omagh Area Plan
2007 - Included in Sub-Regional Transport Plan 2015
July 2010 - Outline planning permission granted for Phase 1

20 June 2013 - Planning permission granted for whole road

26 Feb 2014 - Before this date, Dept of Education agreed to fund the road
Early 2015 - Vesting Order to be published (but not seen as of Oct 2015)

22 Jul 2016 - Tendering process began

2 Jun 2017 - Tender awarded to Fox Contracts
Construction anticipated to last 15 months (as of Nov 2016)

9 Nov 2019 - Road opened to traffic
Estimated completion changed from "early 2019" as of Feb 2018; and "autumn 2018" as of Jun 2017)

Cost

7m, of which Dept of Education is providing 6m (as of June 2014)

See Also

Opportunity Omagh - web site of developer
Maps of scheme - Planning Service (click "Associated Documents")

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

The draft Sub-Regional Transport Plan (SRTP) of 2006 included a proposed "ring road" round the north of the town, connecting the various arterial routes - starting on Derry Road, crossing Strathroy Road and Gortin Road and terminating on Old Mountfield Road at Killyclogher. By the time the final plan was published in 2007, however, most of this proposal had been quietly deleted, with only the Derry Road to Strathroy Road link included. This page relates to this proposal. The approximate route of this road link is shown on the map below:


View Strathroy Link Road, Omagh (proposal) in a larger map

The route will be built to 7.3 metre two-lane single-carriageway standard, ie one lane each way separated by a white line. At the south-western end the road will link to the existing Derry Road via a new roundabout, adjacent to the existing roundabout. At the north-eastern end it will meet Strathroy via a simple "Give Way" T-junction. It will feature a significant bridge over the River Strule, which DRD documents indicate will be a three span structure with a total length of 88 metres. The road will also feature footpaths on both sides, with the southern one also accommodating a cycle path.

The new link will greatly reduce the severance effect of the River Strule - currently there is almost no interaction between the communities on the two banks of the river. The nearest bridge is a footbridge 1km away, while the nearest road crossing is at Sedan Avenue, in the town centre. This road link will encourage greater economic and social cohension.

With thanks to John Campbell of the BBC for alerting me to some of this information.

Phases

The scheme was originally being taken forward by a private developer who is planning a large commercial site called Opportunity Omagh on the Derry Road. This developer was to have been required to build half of the Strathroy Link Road as a condition of planning permission. The scheme had therefore been divided into two phases:

  1. The stretch from Derry Road to the edge of the river, including the new roundabout.
  2. Bridge over the river, and the stretch from there to Strathroy Road.

The image below, from the WDR&RT Taggart web site, shows the proposed Opportunity Omagh development along with Phase 1 of the Strathroy Link Road. However, the scheme had not yet gone ahead by the time it was decided that the road would be needed to give access to the shared education campus at Lisanelly, initially due to open in 2018, so now the whole road is being built at taxpayers' expense.
Opportunity Omagh mockup image

Updates

9 Nov 2019: The Strathroy Link Road was opened to traffic on Friday evening, 9 November, after a bit more than two years of work. Well done to all involved, especially Fox Contracts who did the construction! Below are three photos that were shared by DFI. All three are of the new bridge over the Strule, so that must be their favourite bit! You can also see a short video of the road shared by a local councillor here. Civil engineering enthusiast Ian Linton also shared some photos which you can see by clicking here. A pedestrian crossing at the Derry Road end has still to be activated, but otherwise the scheme seems largely completed. I have not examined all the signage on the scheme, but it's not clear to me what classification the new road has been given. I would expect a B-number. Fermanagh & Omagh District Council will need to select a name for the new road (and they or DFI may also name the bridge).


Pic 1: View north-east along the Strathroy Link Road, looking along the new bridge over the Strule. The road has one traffic lane in each direction plus footways on either side, and sports double "no overtaking" lines in the centre. 8 Nov 2019. [DFI image]

Pic 2: Another view of the elegany new bridge over the Strule. It features three spans - one over the river itself and two to cross over the riverbanks which are submerged when the river is in flood. The slenderness of the columns shows how advanced civil engineering has now become. 8 Nov 2019. [DFI image]

Pic 3: Third view of the new bridge over the Strule, showing a standard steel safety barrier, plus the ubiquitous "native planting" that DFI put along all new roads these days. 8 Nov 2019. [DFI image]

21 Sep 2019: This scheme continues to progress at a sedate pace - it's now been over two years since the contract was awarded. Gordon Dunn, who is sharing images of the scheme on his Flickr album, took some more last week and they show the progress as of then. I share two of the photos below. The most obvious development is that the bridge deck on the new Strule crossing appears to now be complete. The road itself is well advanced on both sides of the river, with just the bit over the new bridge to be completed. It's still possible that the road could be open before the end of 2019, though it could drift into 2020. The local council will, at some point, need to choose a name for both the road and the bridge. Perhaps it would be an opportunity to memorialise a past local personality.


Pic 1: The Strathroy Link road seen looking north on 13 Sep 2019, with Derry Road in the foreground. The new bridge over the Strule is clearly evident. [Gordon Dunn]

Pic 2: Closeup of the new Strule bridge with its deck completed on 13 Sep 2019. The parapets still look to be temporary, so that work has yet to be carried out. The terminus on Strathroy Road is visible on the left distance. Note the river and banks themselves have been undisturbed - the environmental rules around working in watercourses are extremely strict these days.

23 Jul 2019: We are almost two years into the project, and work seems to be slowly making headway. The most visible change recently is that the new roundabout at the south-west end (Derry Road) end of the scheme is now open and in use. It is shown in the pucture below, for which we are again grateful to Gordon Dunn who is sharing images of the scheme on his Flickr album. The picture also shows that work is well underway on construction of the bridge deck of the Strule river bridge - the beams for this were lifted into place back in April. Once the structure of the bridge is completed, the road itself should be completed in short order, so hopefully we'll see it open before the end of the year.


View of the Strathroy Link Road on 18 July, with the existing A5 roundabout on the extreme left. The new adjacent roundabout on the Derry Road is now open to traffic. On the right you can see the deck of the new Strule bridge well advanced. [Gordon Dunn]

Closeup of the new Derry Road roundabout (on the right) and the existing 1990s A5 Omagh Throupass and roundabout on the left. Note that the new roundabout appears to be equipped with spiral lane markings, implying that vehicles emerging from the Strathroy Link Road will be able to turn right from the left lane. [Gordon Dunn]

7 Apr 2019: We are now roughly a year and a half into this scheme, which has seen significant changes since the last update. The pictures here are, once again, with thanks to Gordon Dunn who has given me permission to include them here. He has a lot more pictures of the scheme over on his Flickr album. As well as more progress on the road itself, including the new roundabout on the Derry Road, the most significant change was the addition of at least ten bridge beams for the new bridge over the Strule which were craned into place on 29 March. The pictures below that these were placed on the two approach spans. The five central beams were almost certainly put in place on the same day after these pictures were taken. Last year it as estimated that the road would be open in "early 2019", but at this point I would say summer at the earliest.


Pic 1: Crane placing one of five beams for the westernmost span of the bridge that will carry Strathroy Link Road over the Strule. Note the HGV with another beam waiting to be craned into place. 29 March 2019 [Gordon Dunn]

Pic 2: Wider view of the new Strule river bridge, showing five beams already in place on the east side and four on the west, with the fifth visible on its lorry. The central spans have still to be added in this photo. 29 March 2019 [Gordon Dunn]

Pic 3: Even wider view of the new bridge with the Strathroy Link road taking shape beyond, including the new roundabout on Derry Road. 29 March 2019 [Gordon Dunn]

Pic 4: Final view taken from the Derry Road junction (foreground) looking east back towards the new bridge. On the far side of the river you can see the remainder of the road heading towards its junction with Strathroy Road, and the Lisanelly site on the right in the distance. 29 March 2019 [Gordon Dunn]

11 Nov 2018: Work has progressed well during the summer and autumn. The photos below were taken by Gordon Dunn on 6 October 2018 and show that the road base was in place at both sides, of the Strule river with the kerbing in place on the Derry Road side for both the new road and the new roundabout that will tie it in to Derry Road. Work on the bridge itself is now underway with the foundations for both abutments in place. Work over the winter will presumably involve building up the abutments before a large crane arrives on site to swing the beams into place. The road is due to be open in the spring. With thanks to Gordon Dunn for these photos and updates.


Overview of the new link road on 6 Oct 2018 with Derry Road at the upper left. [Gordon Dunn]

Closeup of the Derry Road tie-in on 6 Oct 2018 shwing kerbing in place for both the new road and associated roundabout. [Gordon Dunn]

Top-down view of the future bridge on 6 Oct 2018, showin the foundabouts for the bridge abutments under construction. Modern environmental restrictions prevent anything being placed in the water, even temporarily. [Gordon Dunn]

24 May 2018: Work has been hotting up over the past couple of months, no doubt aided by the fantastic weather. This photo, taken a month ago by Gordon Dunn, shows that earthworks have now commenced on the Strathroy side of the river and that the works on the Derry Road side have now reached the river too. I would expect to see piling for the bridge piers getting underway soon, if it is not already underway. Work has been due to be completed this autumn, but according to this news story that has now been pushed back to "early 2019". The pressure is off in any case, since work on the shared education campus it is meant to serve has now been suspended, so this delay is unlikely cause many issues. In other news, the tender for the widening of the B48 Gortin Road in Omagh to four lanes is now out, with a closing date of 8 June. This scheme is also related to the shared education campus. I won't create a separate page for that project, but I will comment on it on this page as the two are closely linked. The tender has an estimated construction value of 2.5m, and will take 12 months to complete.

3 Apr 2018: The amazing flying photographer Gordon Dunn took some more shots of this scheme on 24 March and has posted them on his photo album on Flickr. I reproduce three of the photos below with his permission - thank you. Work has been underway now for 9 months, and at that rate completion in the autumn would require a sustained pace from now on. Further comments are in the captions.


General view of the work site seen looking north-east on 24 Mar 2018. The new road starts close to the roundabout and runs towards the top left, where it will cross the River Strule. There is no evidence yet of any work beginning on the bridge structure itself. [Gordon Dunn]


Closeup of the south-western end of the scheme (same view as previous image but from the opposite side) on 24 Mar 2018. It shows that substantial earthworks and drainage are now in place at this end to allow the road to cross the floodplain of the Strule. [Gordon Dunn]


Work was also evident at the opposite end of the scheme, at its terminus on Strathroy Road, on 24 Mar 2018. Work here is less advanced but seems to involve preliminary earthworks. This location also seems to require crossing a minor watercourse, which will probably be achieved by installing a box culvert. [Gordon Dunn]

20 Nov 2017: Work is progressing quietly on this scheme. The photo below was taken about 8 weeks ago by Gordon Dunn (from his photo album on Flickr) and shows work underway at the western (Derry Road) end which seems to consist of earth removal and the installation of rock fill for the road base. At the time these pictures were taken there was no evidence of work on the bridge itself, though that may have changed in the interim.

View south towards the new road being built on 24 Sep 2017. The existing Derry Road is on the right, with the new road running to the left. Note that the bare soil on the left of the photo isn't part of the road construction works. [Gordon Dunn]

11 Jun 2017: The contract for construction of Strathroy Link was finally awarded on 2 June, to Fox Building & Engineering (Fox Contracts). Congratulations to them. So I would expect to see work commencing sometime in the next few weeks, which should see the road completed by autumn 2018.

16 May 2017: Gordon Dunn, who takes aerial photographs, has now created a photo album on Flickr to record construction of this road. He added 3 images to it on 1 May 2017 which show that the vested land has now been fenced off (click link above to see the images). This is the land that DFI bought using a Vesting Order on 8 February this year. Gordon has said that he will try to take further images as work progresses. As of today, the construction contract has still not been awarded so I don't expect to see any heavy construction just yet, but we cannot be far off now (surely?!).

14 Apr 2017: The award of the construction tender has still not happened - I inquired and it has emerged that the timescale has been extended, for quite normal reasons, ie there's no particular problem with the scheme, which is good. Tender award should take place within the next few months. Meanwhile Gordon Dunn has sent the below image at the end of March showing the site of the new road. Some work is evident, though it's not on the line of the proposed road so it may not be directly connected. Nonetheless the image is a lovely overview of how the site looks at the present moment. The new road will begin at the roundabout visible in the upper left and then run to the right along the line evident in the grass, past the line of trees, and then be bridged over the river Strule. See the map at the top of the page for a guide. With thanks to Gordon Dunn for sharing this image.


Site of the new road seen looking north west in late March 2017 [Gordon Dunn].

26 Feb 2017: The tender for construction of this scheme has still not been awarded, according to the DFI web site but we cannot be far off. Meanwhile, the DFI "made" the Vesting Order on 8 February. You can see the Vesting Order map here. A Vesting Order is a legal document that compels landowners to sell the land needed for the road. It exists in a Draft form for many months to allow all those affected to respond and make plans, and eventually is activated, or "made", which is the point at which title in the land actually changes hands to the DFI. That is what has now happened. DFI doesn't normally "make" a Vesting Order until work is about to commence, so this shows that work is likely to get underway soon. So I'd expect to see a contractor appointed in the near future and work to commence within weeks.

27 Dec 2016: The tendering process for this scheme has now been underway for 5 months but has not yet been awarded. In a Written Question in the Assembly (AQW 6089/16-21) the Infrastructure Minister stated that the intention is to award the tender in February 2017, with a view to beginning work in the spring. Construction is now estimated to take 15 months, rather than 16, which would mean completion in the summer of 2017. This is well in advance of the opening of the completed Strule education campus in 2020. The Minister also said that permission has been given to "make" the Vesting Order (ie, to actually buy the required land). It's not clear whether this has actually taken place yet.

Note that provision of the shared education campus also involves widening a short length of B48 Mountjoy Road/Gortin Road in Omagh from two to four lanes each way. I don't intend to create a separate page for that scheme, but you can see more details here.

8 Oct 2016: There is still no sign of the construction tender being awarded, but we must be getting close. Last month the Infrastrucutre Minister was asked about the scheme via Written Questions (AQW 3137/16-21, AQW 3135/16-21 and AQW 3133/16-21). The Minister stated that the scheme would be completed by "mid 2018", suggesting it might slip beyond the end of the 2017/18 financial year as originally planned. With construction due to take 16 months, completion by mid 2018 would require work to be underway by around February 2017 which seems plausible. The Minister also gave the estimated total scheme cost as 7.2m. The Department of Education is funding the bulk of this, about 6m with DfI funding the remainder.

7 Aug 2016: The tendering process for this scheme got underway on 22 July - with the scheme listed on the "Current Tenders" page on the DfI web site and the EU's tenders list. The construction cost is given as 6.3m, though note that this is not the total project cost which also includes things like land purchase and planning. The "contract duration" is given as 66 weeks, or just under 16 months, which we can take to mean the time period from contract award to completion. The first round of the tender process (the pre-qualification questionnaire that narrows down the list of possible contractors) ends on 25 August, after which the next part of the process will take place. Hypothetically, if construction were to begin at the end of 2016 then the road would be completed by Spring 2018 which would only just nip it in before the end of the 2017/18 financial year which is the deadline for completion (see my comment in the update for 29 Oct 2015 below where I referred to "inevitable slippage"!).

1 May 2016: The consultation into the draft Vesting Order (the document that compels landowners to sell the land the DRD need to build the road) took place from 5 January to 5 February. The DRD received just three responses to this consultation. All the most up-to-date documents are at the bottom of the relevant page on the DRD web site, including an appropriate assessment of the river environment under the Habitats Directive. It is not clear what is happening right now - last October a DRD document indicated that the construction tender would be advertised in late 2015 and be awarded by June 2016. However, as far as I can tell, it has not yet gone out to tender so it looks to be have been delayed by quite a few months. We will keep watching to see what happens next. The scheme does need to be completed by the end of 2017-18 financial year due to the development of the Lisanelly shared education campus - with a 16 month construction period this would mean work getting underway by December 2016 at the latest.

9 Nov 2015: Another update for this scheme, this time to note that the draft Vesting Order and accompanying map have just been published. This details the land that the DRD intends to buy in order to build the road. It is being published now in draft form as it will now go out to consultation (giving anyone, but principally affected landowners, an opportunity to object).

29 Oct 2015: The DRD has published their most recent procurement plan, and it lists this scheme which gives us some firm construction information for the first time. It gives the construction cost as 5m - though note that this is not the total project cost, which also includes planning and land acquisition. It states that the contract is currently expected to be advertised in late 2015, and to be awarded in June 2016 (and with work presumably commencing quickly after that) with a total construction period of 16 months. 16 months from June 2016 takes us to October 2017 which would certainly be enough time for to meet the DRD's target of Spring 2018 even allowing for the inevitable slippage. (The Vesting Order was to have been published in early 2015 but I have not seen it - does anyone know anything about this?)

5 Sep 2015: An article appeared about this road in the Ulster Herald at the end of July. The main purpose of the article is to report that the Department of Education is to fund most of the cost (ie 6m of the 7m cost) of this road, although we have known this since June 2014 (see previous updates below). However it's not clear if the increasingly dysfunctional nature of the Stormont Executive will impact on budgets and hence on this funding. TransportNI has said that they are aiming to complete the road by Spring 2018, although the article points out that strictly speaking it doesn't have to be completed until the shared education campus at Lisanelly opens in September 2020. The 2018 target date would mean construction getting underway around mid 2017. A year ago (see previous update) the DRD anticipated the draft Vesting Order to acquire the necessary land) would be published in early 2015, and the Ulster Herald said this was now expected in summer 2015. However, both these dates have come and gone and to my knowledge it has not yet been published.

13 Oct 2014: A geotechnical survey is now underway on the site of this road and bridge. The purpose of this work is to find out exactly what is below the ground so that a more detailed design can be produced. The picture below was taken by Gordon Dunn (thank you) and shows this work underway. The vehicles are being used to drill boreholes. In a Question for Written Answer in the Assembly, the DRD Minister confirmed that this work is underway, and gave a timescale as follows: Vesting Order (to acquire the necessary land) early 2015; Construction in "latter part of 2016/17 financial year" (ie, early 2017); completion 2018.

Geotechnical survey work underway on the route of the Strathroy Link Road on 28 Sep 2014 [Gordon Dunn]

19 June 2014: In the DRD Roads Service report to Omagh District Council last week, it was confirmed that Roads Service is committed to this scheme. Because it must be in place for the opening of the new shared education campus at Lisanelly in 2018/19, "Roads Service is committed to the delivery of this scheme by the end of the 2017/18 financial year." This means that we should see the road completed no later than Spring 2018, which would mean construction commencing no later than Spring 2017, ie three years from now. Because it is needed for Lisanelly, the document also confirms that the Department of Education is funding 6m out of the 7m cost, with the remaining 1m presumably being funded by the DRD. The scheme no longer seems to be associated with the Opportunity Omagh development.

4 Apr 2014: In the minutes of a meeting of Omagh District Council on 14 November 2013, it was confirmed that funding has now been secured in principle. It quotes a DRD representative as saying that "it was anticipated that the scheme would commence in 2015/16 through part funding being secured from the Department of Education in conjunction with the Lisanelly Shared Educational Campus scheme and a further 1m provided by Roads Service." The Department of Education has an interest in that it is developing the Lisanelly site for several schools, and provision of the road would greatly benefit the scheme. This is then confirmed in the minutes of a Transport NI [the newly created body that oversees Roads Service] meeting on 26 February 2014 which says that they "noted the Minister for Education has confirmed his Department will fund the construction and land costs; and noted the award of a commission to assist with project development and delivery." There is no mention of 1m from DRD in this latter quote, so it's unclear whether this is still the case or whether the Dept of Education is now funding it all. But it implies that DRD are now assisting with the project development, which would be normal practice as road design is their skill area, and this will incur some cost. So it looks as if we could see work getting underway within the next two years, despite the uncertainty over the Opportunity Omagh development. Good news for Omagh.

9 Dec 2013: In the previous update I was noted that the DRD had applied separately for planning permission for the whole of the Strathroy Link Road. This permission was granted on 20 June 2013. Since then there has been no movement as far as I can ascertain. However, if work has not begun within 5 years the planning permission will expire and the DRD will need to apply all over again. There is no further sign of the Opportunity Omagh development going ahead either, but it still seems to be a live proposal. The plan still seems to be that the private developer will build the first part (Derry Road to river) and the DRD will build the bridge and the link to Strathroy Road. So the two are probably interdependent in terms of timing.

4 Oct 2012: The Developer of Opportunity Omagh applied for planning permission for Phase 1 on 9 March 2011 (application K/2011/0156/RM), and this was granted in full on 7th August 2012. The DRD applied separately for planning permission for the entire road on 8th April 2011 (application K/2011/0258/F). It's not totally clear why the two bodies have applied separately - it may be the DRD hedging their bets. No decision has been made on this latter DRD application. Last week Tesco withdrew its planning application to have a store at the site, but this does not impact on the link road itself. However, until there is sufficient investment in place for the developer to go ahead, the link road will remain on the drawing board.