The Department for Regional Development (DRD) in Northern Ireland has approved £330m to upgrade the A5 corridor into a dual carriageway, in a bid to increase the capacity of the road, reduce traffic congestions and accidents, and improve user safety.
The project will upgrade two stretches of the A5 corridor from New Buildings, Londonderry, to the north of Strabane and from the south of Omagh to Ballygawley.
DRD Minister Danny Kennedy said that the proposed scheme will help to improve road safety and provide a more appropriate standard of road on this key strategic route.
"There are almost 1,400 junctions and accesses onto the existing A5, which contribute to the potential for accidents along this route," Kennedy added.
"The collision history is a factor which cannot be ignored and the A5 upgrade will help to reduce the number of collisions by providing improved cross sections, forward visibility and alignment, as well as separating strategic and local traffic."
DRD has selected a joint venture (JV) of Balfour Beatty-BAM-FP McCann to construct the first stretch of the A5, the northern section of the scheme between New Buildings and Strabane, and upgrade 15km into a new dual carriageway.
The second stretch of 23km, the southern section between Omagh and Ballygawley, will be upgraded by the Graham-Farrans JV.
Graham-Farrans JV will also upgrade the link between the new road and the existing Ballygawley roundabout to dual carriageway at the southern end of the route.
DRD is expecting the construction work to commence in the final quarter of 2012 and it may take up to two and half years to complete the project.
The department will upgrade the remaining sections of the corridor after the approval of funds through the Investment Strategy for NI 2011-21 and subsequent budget settlements beyond 2015.