THE mayor of Coleraine has urged Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to find the necessary funding to dual the A26.
Alderman Maurice Bradley said Coleraine Borough Council and neighbouring councils regarded the introduction of a motorway between Coleraine and Ballymena as a priority.
The mayor said: “The A26 is a key piece of infrastructure that not only brings many visitors to the Borough but also many people use it on a daily basis for their commute to and from work.
“I understand it is estimated that upwards of 18,000 vehicles use this road every day. The original plans were to extend the M2, however regrettably this did not take place.
“Anyone travelling on this stretch of road will have experienced the potential for accidents that exist as motorists try to reach their destination having been caught behind a slow moving tractor or lorry.
“It is unfortunate that during last week’s announcements with regard to investment in road schemes, the A26 did not feature.
“It is the view of Council and that of our neighbours that priority should be afforded to this key piece of infrastructure.
“I understand that this is a non-contentious scheme and is one that if given the green light for funding can be easily delivered.”
The mayor said that the introduction of the new road would be a recognition of the strategic importance of the region.
“The North Coast is recognised as Northern Irelands premier tourist resort area with tourism being the key economic driver.
“Over one million bed nights are generated annually by visitors to Coleraine Borough contributing £60m to the local economy.
During the week of the North West 200, approximately 100,000 people will visit, up to 200,000 will visit over the two days of the Airshow, and the Irish Open is anticipated to bring up to 100,000 spectators over the four days of the competition.
“Although the Executive is very aware of the strategic significance of this area, we have been regularly inviting ministers to the region to see for themselves the opportunities, not just for Coleraine but for ‘Northern Ireland PLC’.
“I am also very pleased that our neighbouring Council representatives joined us to welcome the Minister, as we stand together on the importance of addressing the dualling of the A26 road between Coleraine and Ballymena.
During his visit, on Wednesday, Mr Kennedy Danny Kennedy had tea with alderman Bradley, Councillor Ian Stevenson, Mayor of Ballymoney and Moyle Vice Chair, councillor Sandra Hunter.
Alderman Bradley said it is no secret that the region is in need of significant investment.
“Already some excellent work has been carried out. In partnership with the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Industry; Social Development; as well as Cultures Arts and Leisure, as regeneration works have been carried out at East Strand and are currently underway at Station Square in Portrush.
“However more work is required. If this region punches above its weight and is able to attract international competitions such as the ‘Open’ Golf tournament, then this will be to the benefit of the entire province. What is good for Coleraine and this wider region is good for Northern Ireland.”