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Minister officially opens M2 improvements scheme

9 June, 2009

Roads Minister Conor Murphy today opened the £20million M2 improvements scheme.

At the opening ceremony Minister Murphy said the improvements to this strategic route would deliver huge benefits for the economy in the north.

The Minister said: “The strategic road network has a direct impact on the competitiveness of local business and investment in it is therefore essential in improving productivity, making the region more attractive to investors and underpinning the economy. The £20million M2 improvements scheme represents a significant investment in the strategic road network, which I am sure will improve the efficiency of the transport system and help to strengthen the local economy, particularly at this difficult time.

“The scheme will greatly improve journey times for all traffic between Belfast, Antrim, the Port of Larne and Belfast International Airport, and, importantly, it will significantly improve journey time reliability on this route for the freight transport industry.”

Mr Murphy explained the M2 scheme had been a very challenging and complex project. The challenges faced on this scheme included the replacement of the Hightown, Collin and Longlands Bridges and working on the live M2 motorway, carrying 65,000 vehicles each day, with the need to maintain two traffic lanes in each direction through the middle of the construction site.

The Minister said: “Replacement of the Hightown Bridge was always a high priority on this scheme and its completion five months ahead of schedule was a significant milestone in the project. Given the challenges the construction team faced on this project, it is great news that it has been completed some two months ahead of the original programme."

Mr Murphy said although road users had experienced some delays during construction of the M2 improvements, every effort was made to keep this to a minimum. He said: “The impact of the works was kept to a minimum through the careful planning of the works by Roads Service, the contractor HMC and the introduction of a number of measures to minimise disruption, including introduction of a new bus priority lane on the hard shoulder of the M2 approaching Sandyknowes junction.”

The Minister acknowledged the excellent public response there had been during the 27 month construction period. He said: "I would like to formally thank road users, the surrounding community and all those affected by the works for their patience and co-operation throughout the construction period."

Leo Martin, Project Director for HMC said: “Delivering a major infrastructure scheme of this scale, ahead of schedule, takes a good deal of organising, hard work and good teamwork. Widening a busy section of motorway was particularly challenging and required careful planning to allow the works to progress. So let me thank our dedicated team of staff and subcontractors who worked tirelessly to successfully delivery of this project, ahead of programme.”

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