The Department for Regional Development (DRD) plans to shelve a road dualling project for at least four years even though it has already spent £16m on it.
The A2 road runs along the northern shore of Belfast Lough.
The DRD has spent £4m on surveys and consultation and £12m has been spent on buying houses and land on the route.
A DRD spokesman said: Depending on the outcome of the final budget, Roads Service would manage any properties purchased in line with current policy."
In January, the DRD made its draft budget available for consultation.
Road building was the biggest casualty with the A6 Randalstown to Castledawson and York Street flyover projects also delayed.
In relation to the move the department said the draft budget proposals "represent a balanced way of dealing with difficult financial pressures".
There were worries that a £200m shortfall in the maintenance budget will mean more potholes in the roads network, leaving surfaces less resilient to freeze-and-thaw cycles and flooding.
Some projects have escaped the cuts. The A5, Londonderry to Aughnacloy Road, has received the green light.
On Monday, DRD Minister Conor Murphy announced that a public inquiry will go ahead before that particular dualling project starts.
At 85km, it was the largest road scheme ever undertaken in Northern Ireland.
There were more than 2,000 objections to the project during the consultation period.
The inquiry is expected to start in May.
Another project, the A8, which is a spur off the M2 between Belfast and Larne, has also been approved.