An Bord Pleanála approves €600m Galway city ring road

The scheme will involve the demolition of 44 houses and will include a new bridge and two short tunnels

The wider transport plan for Galway bids to keep 7,300 car trips from the city centre each day, along with a 38% decrease in HGV traffic in the city centre during peak times.  Photograph: Getty Images

The wider transport plan for Galway bids to keep 7,300 car trips from the city centre each day, along with a 38% decrease in HGV traffic in the city centre during peak times. Photograph: Getty Images

 

An Bord Pleanála has approved a €600 million 18km Galway city ring road which is designed to ease much of the city’s heavy traffic congestion, though it has been strongly opposed by environmentalists.

The road to the north of Galway city will extend the current N6 from Coolagh in the city’s eastern suburbs to Barna in the west, requiring a new bridge and a Corrib viaduct, and two short tunnels on the city’s east side.

The construction work, which is partly designed to open up lands to the west of Galway for development, now requires Cabinet approval to begin.

The final design and tendering will take approximately 18 to 24 months, and some of this work can run in parallel with any legal challenges mounted to the planning decision.

If approved, construction – which will require the demolition of 44 houses – will take a further 36 months, said Galway County Council, Galway City Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

Every effort had been made to avoid demolishing houses, but the “unfortunate but unavoidable impacts” on some local communities and people living near the road route could not be avoided completely, the three bodies said.

Travelling west to east the road starts out as as a 6km single-carriageway west of Barna, where traffic volumes are low, and continues via Ballymoneen Road in Knocknacarra to Letteragh.

Here it will become a dual-carriageway. Traffic volumes are in the order of 25,000 vehicles a day between the Tuam and Headford roads, and rise to 30,000 at the eastern end of the route.

The 12km dual-carriageway will cross the river Corrib 200m south of Menlo Castle. The first of two tunnels will pass under the Lough Corrib special area of conservation at Lackagh quarry (Coolagh) on the Headford Road.

Designers have also pledged to open up existing roads for pedestrians and cyclists, improving air quality in the city centre as well as access to University College Hospital Galway and NUIG.

Plans for an “outer” bypass of the city collapsed in 2013 after more than a decade in planning. That scheme was rejected by the European Court of Justice on environmental grounds.

Galway City Council said the planning decision was “welcome news for the thousands of commuters who travel to Galway” daily “who find themselves at a standstill for long periods in traffic congestion”.

The council said the ring road will solve traffic problems in Parkmore and Ballybrit and “open up greater employment opportunities for Connemara, the rest of County Galway and the wider region”.

The wider transport plan for Galway bids to keep 7,300 car trips from the city centre each day, along with a 38 per cent decrease in HGV traffic in the city centre during peak times.