On a day when it seemed the proposers of the new N6 Galway City Ring Road would merely go through the motions of outlining the project, there was drama when it emerged that both Boston Scientific and NUI Galway had withdrawn objections/submissions to the plan — in both cases to allow amendments to address their concerns.
Three hundred interested parties and planners gathered in the g Hotel on Tuesday morning for the commencement of the hearing which is expected to last up to six weeks.
In the opening address, it was stated that the plan proceeds as designed, except for one modification proposed to the alignment of a link road forming part of the proposed road development at Ballybrit Business Park; and some amendments to the mitigation strategy at NUIG.
When outlining the engineering statement of evidence, ARUP’s Eileen McCarthy who was Project Manager on the proposal, said that since publication and following receipt of the NUI Galway’s submission/objection, NUIG had confirmed the completion of its University Sports Masterplan and strategy and identified its requirements and plans for the University Sporting Campus.
In this it said they do not want the mitigation measures originally proposed in the EIAR, as it is pursuing its own plans in terms of providing for the pitches that it believes it needs to mitigate the impacts of the proposed road development. To this end, it has a planning application pending before Galway City Council Ref 19/372 in this regard.
In light of this, the proposed road development has been amended in the NUIG Sporting Campus to reflect that the construction of an all-weather full size GAA pitch on the site of the existing pitch nine is no longer required. In addition, construction of a training area on the site of the existing pitch eight is also no longer required.
A second modification saw Boston Scientific withdraw its objection/submission, the basis of which was that the route may impede future expansion of the plant. However, a compromise was agreed. The hearing was told that when developing its masterplan for the expanded campus, Boston Scientific proposed a new route for the section of the link road within their lands. In response, Galway County Council is applying for approval of a modification of the Parkmore Link Road.
This route as modified provides a direct connection from Parkmore West to the existing road network in City East Business Park as per the original alignment. In doing so, it retains the transport functionality of the original proposal.
Earlier the hearing had been told that the stress and inconvenience to be caused by the demolition of houses and businesses in order to build the N6 Galway City Ring Road has to be viewed in terms of the overall benefit it will bring to the region.
More than 300 objections have been lodged with An Bord Pleanála in connection with a proposed €600 million ring road around Galway city which planners say is essential to ease chronic traffic congestion in the city.
In his opening address, Mike Evans of ARUP said that the N6 GCRR represents the best solution to the transport difficulties in Galway City and supports more sustainable travel. He said it will provide a strategic route across the River Corrib without the need to go through the city
“It will be of a high standard cross-section and will provide the capacity required for the strategic traffic serving the city and connecting the county to the national network. It will improve connectivity to the Western Region i.e. the county areas and hinterland beyond the city zone.”
He added that access to this strategic route will be limited to the junctions provided which will protect the road asset in the future and means that its capacity is secure
Presenting the 98-page Brief of Evidence, ARUP’s Eileen McCarthy said that through tackling the city’s congestion issues, this route will provide a better quality of life for the city’s inhabitants and provide a much safer environment in which to live.
“By reducing the number of cars on the roads within the city centre and improving streetscapes, workers and students are facilitated to commute using multi-modal transport means. This includes travelling on foot, by bicycle and on the public transport system
“It will provide connectivity to the national roads via junctions to maximise the transfer of cross-city movements to the new road infrastructure, thus releasing and freeing the existing city centre zone from congestion caused by traffic trying to access a city centre bridge to cross the River Corrib.
“It will attract traffic from the city centre zone thus facilitating reallocation of road space to public transport leading to improved journey time reliability for public transport and it will cater for the strong demand between zones on either side of the city.
“It will facilitate an improved city centre environment for all due to reduced congestion, thus encouraging walking and cycling as safe transport modes.
She added that Galway City and its environs have critical transport issues that require urgent resolution.
Crippling and stifling
“The traffic congestion in Galway City and its environs is crippling and stifling city living as well as cutting off access from the wider region to employment and services in the city and there is simply no resilience in the transport network.
“After a comprehensive consideration of alternatives as part of the process of identifying the most appropriate solution for these traffic issues, the solution identified addresses the transport problem in Galway City by adding trip capacity to the existing transport network, thereby reducing trips through the city centre meaning there is less congestion which in turn makes public transport and active travel modes more attractive.
She said that the proposed N6 GCRR is a vital component of the Galway Transport Strategy which has been developed to address the transport issues facing Galway and provides for sustainable transport infrastructure and supports the population growth envisaged in the NPF for Galway and the West Region.
“It will enable Galway to develop as a city as a regional centre of scale for the West in which it is great to live and work in. The quality of physical connectivity in and around Galway is essential for retaining and attracting inward investment and employment.
“It will also have a beneficial impact, not only on the transport services in Galway, but also the attractiveness of the west of the county overall as a business, investment and tourism location as well as a place to live.
“It provides the space on the transport network for allocation of space to public transport and active modes and once the GTS is fully implemented there will be an even greater significant shift to public transport and sustainable transport modes.
“The proposed road development represents the optimal solution to resolve Galway’s traffic difficulties and has been the subject of a full assessment of all the potential impacts. Any significant residual impacts remaining post mitigation are outweighed by the significant benefits achieved and the even greater potential for generation of further benefits.
She said that having considered the submissions and objections as set out in detail above, the conclusions of the EIAR remain the same.
John O’Malley of Kiaran O’Malley and Co Ltd, who specialises in town planning then told the hearing of the responses to the planning and policy context in which this application is to be evaluated by the planning authority, and addressed the issues pertaining to planning policy raised in the submissions.
He said that it seems to be broadly accepted that Galway’s problem of traffic congestion needs early urgent attention, not least because of the increased mobility requirements of a 45,000 population growth over the next 20 years.
The hearing continues today (Thursday ) and will begin hearing from affected home and business owners next Monday when the Ecology and Hydraeology module commences.
Residents addressing the hearing
Those who are scheduled to address the hearing next Monday include:
Deirdre Goggin and Michael Kenny; Kevin Kelly, Geraldine Kelly and Shane Kelly;Damien and Katherine Kelly; Kevin Gill; Margaret and Finbar McCarthy; Peter Connolly; Annette and Michael Kerin; Paddy and Marina O’Malley; Thomas and Mary Kilgarriff; Brendan Mulligan; Aughnacurra Residents Association; Michael and Trisha Murphy; Patrick McDonagh and James Barrett; Lortetta Needham and Tom Rea; Connolly Motor Group; Galway City Community Network; John Hughes; Michael O’Connor; NUI, Galway.
On Tuesday, the hearing will hear from Brooks; Galway N6 Action group; Galway Athletics Board, Kevin Jennings on behalf of Galway Cycling Campaign; Galway Race Committee and clients of Vincent Costello.
On Wednesday, the hearing will hear from clients of Tom Corr; clients of Joyce Mackie and Lougheed, and clients of Gaynor Miller.
The Ecology and Hydrolgeology pauses on February 26.
Module 2, entitled All Other Matters commences on Tuesday March 3.
It will hear from Sean O Neachtain, Deirdre Goggin and Michael Kenny; Kevin Kelly, Geraldine Kelly and Shane Kelly; Damien and Katherine Kelly; Maura and Dermot O’Connell, Audrey and Sean Dineen; Kevin Gill and others; Kevin and Marion Watters; Michael Conneely; Padraig and Imelda Burke; Annette and Michael Kerin; John Hughes; Paddy and Marina O’Malley; Ann and Brian Rabbitte; Statutory Receivers GVA; Christina Nestor; Linda Rabbitte; Brian and Mary Kenny; Peter Broughan.
On Wednesday March 4, the hearing will hear from Colm and Marie O hEocha; Thomas and Mary Kilgarriff; Aughnacurra Residents Association; Gerard and Ann Winters; Derrick Hambleton; Ciaran Ferrie, Brendan Mulligan; Michael and Trisha Murphy; Stephen Meagher; George Ryder; M&M Qualtech; Connolly Motor Group;
On Thursday March 5, the hearing will hear from Loretta Needham and Tom Rea; Deirdre Goggin and Michael Kenny; Joseph Francis Kelly; Residents of Art na Gaoithe; Martin Feeney; Sharon Morris and Edward O’Reilly; Margaret and Finbar McCarthy; Kenny Galway Ltd; Galway Property Management; Strategic Land Investments; Tom McDonagh; Galway City Harriers; Parkmore Traffic Action Group; Maura Conneely; Neil O’Leary on behalf of Galway Cycle Bus; Kevin Jennings on behalf of Galway Cycling Campaign; Galway Athletics Board.
On Friday March 6, the hearing will hear from Boston Scientific; John Ryan Irish Hotels; Kathleen Greaney; Patrick McDonagh/James Barrett; Anita Sullivan on behalf of Thomas and Marie Sullivan; Tesco Ireland; McHale Engineering; Dr Mary Regan; and NUI Galway.
Proceedings next week will be covered on social media each day by the Galway Advertiser.