Stimulus roads programme to give Galway a 5,000-job boost
By Declan Varley
Galway is to gain about 5,000 jobs in the construction and related services sector over the next three years as a result of the initiatives announced on Tuesday as part of the Government Stimulus.
With work expected to commence on the M17 Gort to Tuam motorway inside the next eight months, it is calculated that at least 2,500 workers will be deployed on the three-year-project and that an additional 500 posts will be created servicing what will be the county’s largest construction project.
The massive project will see the construction of 57km of new motorway, bypassing Clarinbridge, Claregalway and Tuam and will create a much-needed continuous link between the major population centres on the western seaboard.
In addition, the Galway City Outer Bypass has been listed as another priority project. This 12km orbital route for Galway city would link up with the M6 Dublin motorway. This project is currently on hold pending the outcome of legal proceedings, but it is hoped to progress this as an extra PPP project depending on the outcome of these proceedings which are due some time in the next four months.
The eastern section of the project was the subject of a failed legal challenge in the High Court in 2009, which was subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court. The case has now been referred to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling in respect of a number of points relating to EU Law.
An oral hearing is scheduled to take place in September and it is understood that a final decision by the European Court is likely to be issued by the end of the year. If that project is to commence, it would create an additional 3,000 construction jobs over a four-year period.
However, more immediately, work will commence on the M17 project early in the New Year as almost all of the land needed for the project has been purchased, so machinery can move on site in the spring.
The project will take in the region of three years to complete, but it could be open as early as 2015, creating a high quality motorway link all the way
Last evening, the Director of Shannon Airport, Mary Considine has described the green-light for the Gort-Tuam motorway under the Government Stimulus programme as a significant boost for passengers across the wider West of Ireland.
“The announcement by Government that the Gort to Tuam motorway will proceed under its major stimulus programme is very positive news for passengers and our airport alike. The completion of the motorway to Galway and further to Tuam will significantly enhance travel times to and from Shannon Airport for our existing catchment and also open up a wider market for our services.
Fine Gael TD Sean Kyne said that he welcomed the news but said he is saddened that there are ongoing issues surrounding planning on the GCOB as this road has been indicated as the number one road in the country in terms of the cost benefit analysis carried out by the Department and therefore would have been announced this week for funding were it not for the delays.
Labour TD for Galway West Derek Nolan has said the Government decision to fund the N17/N18 Gort to Tuam motorway will further stimulate an economic corridor between Galway and Limerick and bring Shannon Airport to Galway's doorstep.
Dep Nolan said the investment, which is part of the Government’s €2.25bn capital programme, would see the commute to Shannon halved for Galway travellers.
“This 57 kilometres of motorway will provide a bypass for Clarinbridge, Claregalway, and Tuam and the construction date for this will be in the first quarter of 2013. This project will generate significant numbers of jobs in the construction sector in Galway. It will also create the required infrastructure to help support our economic recovery. But crucially it will open up Shannon to Galway commuters and create an economic corridor between the two cities. The commute to Shannon will be halved and this will bring the international airport to Galway's doorstep,” he said.
Dep Brian Walsh said that there is now great hope that the outer bypass project can be realised.
“The Galway City Outer Bypass has been one of my foremost priorities since I was elected to the Dáil last year, and for the first time I think we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
“This is a landmark in the history of the project, which follows a great deal of hard work to ensure that the road was made and remained a top infrastructural priority for the Government in the context of its capital investment plans.”