Published Tuesday, 01 May 2012
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The £100m project will provide a 14.4km roadway from Coleman's Corner Roundabout to the Ballyrickard Road in the Co Antrim town.
Work is expected to start in June, handled by the consortium Lagan, Ferrovail and Costain, and will take around two and a half years to complete.
Mr Kennedy welcomed the scheme and said it will benefit road users by increasing safety and reducing travel times.
"I welcome the benefits to road users with the provision of a new all purpose dual carriageway," the UUP minister said.
"This will help reduce journey times, improve road safety along the A8, and help the development of the Port of Larne, which is the second largest port in Northern Ireland."
Money for the scheme was made available by the Executive in February.
It was given the go-ahead following the Inspector's Report into the Public Inquiries on the A8.
The Inspector recommended that the proposed dual carriageway should be constructed in accordance with the preferred route.
This route bypasses the village of Ballynure and Bruslee.
In more than 130 recommendations, the Inspector also said Church Road should be kept open while the Rushvale Road and Calhame Road link is removed.
The Minister added that the scheme will be welcome news for the local construction industry.
He said: "In the current economic climate, the commencement of this dual carriageway, along the Eastern Seaboard Key Transport Corridor, will be welcome news for the construction industry and when completed, contribute to the overall economic development of Northern Ireland.
"The scheme should lead to an increase in demand for local suppliers of construction material as well as a boost to commercial trade in the surrounding area."
A statement from the Port of Larne has welcomed news that the upgrade will go ahead.
"The Regional Development Strategy recognises Larne as a gateway and this road as one of the key transport corridors in Northern Ireland," it said.
"The port has waited many years for this final piece of dualling to take place.
"This project will help to support the development of business and tourism not just for Larne and East Antrim, but for the whole of Northern Ireland for many years to come."