THE Department of Education will provide £6 million for a major new road project in Omagh it has emerged.
The long-time mooted Strathroy Link Road is considered the key component in addressing the poor existing access routes to the 140 acre Lisanelly Shared Education Campus.
As it stands, the Gortin Road is the only access route to the Lisanelly site, which will eventually house around 3,700 local students across six schools. The total cost of the project has been estimated at over £100 million.
The new 1km long single carriageway will link the Derry Road roundabout with the Strathroy Road, beside the former British Army camp. Significantly, the project will also feature a 90 metre long bridge over the Strule River.
While the Department of Education has always committed to part-funding the road, last week Transport NI (formerly Roads Service) confirmed that the department will provide £6 million for the project, which is expected to cost £7 million.
In March this year, Education Minister John O’Dowd said significant cuts to his budget would see 500 teachers and 1,000 support staff being made redundant over the next year.
This is week the department told the UH that it anticipates that the £6 million for the new road would be spread over a number of financial years.
In its annual report presented to the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council last Tuesday night, Transport NI officials said a traffic impact assessment commissioned by the Department of Education recognised the need for “significant development work” to the local road network around the campus and in particular the need for a road crossing the Strule River to link the Derry Road and Strathroy Road.
The report said while the Department for Regional Development (DRD) will take the lead on building the road, Education Minister John O’Dowd had given his commitment to funding £6 million toward the road.
Planning permission has already been granted for the new link which the Department of Education states must be operational prior to 2018/19.
While the new Arvalee school at Lisanelly will be open on September 2016, the actual construction of the campus won’t begin until early 2017. The target date for the entire campus becoming fully operational is September 2020. As a result, Transport NI has set a target of completing the road by Spring of 2018.
In a statement, the Department of Education said, “The Strathroy Link Road is a planning requirement related to the delivery of the Lisanelly Shared Education Campus. DE are committed to part funding the project in association with Transport NI which is anticipated to be profiled across a number of financial years. The exact timing of delivery is still under consideration but must be completed before campus opening in September 2020.”
Transport NI has engaged consultants to progress with the link road, with work already started on a detailed scheme design and preparation of orders.
Transport NI has also said it is working in partnership with Rivers Agency to establish if the replacement flood wall at Hunters Crescent can be included within the link road construction contract. “Ground Investigation works have recently been carried out and meetings have been held with the affected landowners. The design has progressed and it is hoped to publish the draft vesting order in summer 2015,” states the report.