The proposed Galway Ring Road has "passed a number of important tests", meeting Government business case and cost-benefit analysis requirements, but a leading Galway TD has warned that many significant hurdles remain to be cleared before construction can begin.
An outer city bypass for Galway has been an on-going endeavour for close to two decades, but has fallen foul of planning laws and EU regulations, and has been highly controversial among many sectors of the city's population. However, the bypass's latest incarnation, now termed the Galway Ring Road Project - which emerged in 2015 - looks to be in a stronger position to come to fruition.
Supporters of the project welcomed last night's confirmation that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport had approved the business case and the cost-benefit analysis for the bypass.
“This is a very important and necessary hurdle for the bypass to jump before it can go on public display and ultimately to An Bord Pleanála for decision," Fine Gael Galway West TD and Minister for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, Seán Kyne, told the Galway Advertiser.
Passing the Department of Transport tests means the benefits of the bypass have been judged to be worth the investment of public money - the proposed road will cost more than €20 million. Secondly, the bypass has successfully passed the scrutiny of the Department of Transport’s Economic and Evaluation Unit. It now goes before the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for review. As with all infrastructure projects of +€100 million, it will then go before the Government for ultimate approval.
Minister Kyne believes the bypass - whose propsoed final rooute is depicted in the map above - will ultimately be given the green light by his Government colleagues. “As the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, are former ministers for transport and have visited Galway regarding transport issues, I’m confident the importance of the Galway Ring Road Project is fully understood and appreciated at Government level.”
However Minister Kyne has warned that passing the above tests on their own does not guarantee the bypass will ultimately go ahead. "The big hurdle to get it through is planning and if there are any court cases following a decision as well," he said. "We must realise there will be objections, some people will lose their homes due to the road."
Nonetheless, the Connemara based TD says the bypass is "necessary for Galway and the west", and feels that, in its latest proposed incarnation, it stands a better chance of becoming a reality.
"While we cannot pre-empt what the planning process will throw up, the Galway City Council and Arrow Engineers have done a lot of preparatory work on this," he said. "This has been a very thorough examination, more preparatory work was done on this than any previous proposal, and all possible options and routes were explored."
Dep Kyne says if the bypass gets planning permission, it is likely to be completed and opened by 2024.