Published Tuesday, 31 July 2012
The A5 project has been at the centre of controversy, facing strong opposition. (© UTV/Google Earth)
UTV reported earlier this month that the £330m project was being given the green light, despite more than 2,000 objections from local people and landowners being lodged.
The final decision, confirmed on Tuesday, comes after a public inquiry into the proposed upgrade.
The work, which is scheduled to begin in the autumn, could create up to 800 construction jobs and is expected to take two-and-a-half years to complete.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy confirmed that a report by inspectors had recommended the scheme go ahead as planned - but subject to key amendments.
That means work on the Ballygawley to Aughnacloy section, which has been at the centre of strong opposition, will be postponed and the A4/A5 Tullyvar Road roundabout will be retained.
I assure those land and property owners that Roads Service will continue to work to reach agreement and resolve, where possible, any outstanding individual difficulties.
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy
But the minister said he welcomed the findings and added that the A5 upgrade will help to improve road safety in the area.
"There are almost 1,400 junctions and accesses onto the existing A5 which contribute to the potential for accidents along this route," Mr Kennedy said.
"The collision history is a factor which cannot be ignored."
In recognising the opposition to some parts of the scheme, he added: "Every effort has been made to reduce the impact of the road scheme on property and landowners.
"The rights of those affected are safeguarded and they will receive compensation in accordance with a series of Acts of Parliament, case law and established practice."
Chairman of the Regional Development committee, Jimmy Spratt, welcomed the publication of the inspectors' report on the A5.
"In accepting the report recommendations, the minister has taken a pragmatic approach to the proposed scheme which will bring much-needed and significant investment in jobs within the construction industry - whilst at the same time listening to the arguments made by those opposed to the Aughnacloy section of the scheme," he said.
"It is important that the contractors cooperate with the landowners and that landowners are adequately compensated for their property and any inconvenience during the construction process."
SDLP West Tyrone MLA Joe Byrne was also positive about the announcement and said it would provide an economic boost to the North-West.
"Having spent 25 years campaigning for this infrastructural improvement, I am delighted that it has finally been given the green light," he said.
"This will come as welcome news to our struggling construction industry, as this project is expected to create up to 800 jobs in this sector."
© UTV News