Commuters, business, and environmentally friendly transport modes will benefit from the ring road, says Larkin

An Bord Pleanala to give verdict on controversial ring road by the end of this month

Independent Galway City East councillor, Noel Larkin. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Independent Galway City East councillor, Noel Larkin. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

The N6 Galway City Ring Road will cut traffic time in Galway, boost tourism, and, contrary to what many fear, will “support a shift towards environmentally friendly transport modes”.

This is the view of Independent Galway City East councillor, Noel Larkin, who argues that the N6 GCRR - or Galway bypass - will free up road space in the city centre which can be used by other modes of transport and work in conjunction with safe cycle routes and walkways within the city.

A decision on the €600 million-plus ring road is due from An Bord Pleanala on April 30. The proposed road has proven highly controversial with previous designs falling foul of planning and environmental regulations.

For and against

Furthermore, opponents of the ring road argue that the more roads that are built, the more cars there are to fill them. This is known as ‘Induced demand’, the idea that increasing roadway capacity encourages more people to drive, and as a result fails to decrease traffic levels. Previous experiences in Norway and the United States, along with academic research, appears to bear this out.

Critics of the ring road also feel it will be used as a ‘one size fits all’ solution to traffic and that other measures such as light rail, park and ride, better public transport infrastructure, cycle lanes, and pedestrian infrastructure will be ignored from then on.

However, Cllr Larkin, said the ring road is “essential”, arguing it will enable a multi-modal transport solution for Galway; improve journey times for public transport; and release the city centre from congestion.

“Like the Quincentenary bridge, completed 37 years ago, after a few years we wondered how on earth we survived without it,?” he said.

The business case

In arguing for the ring road, the former mayor cited the view of Michael Cuddy, Professor of Economics, NUIG, who called it “an essential piece of national infrastructure” which was also “essential to the economic development of Galway and the West of Ireland”.

Prof Cuddy said that the “absence” of the ring road would, “in addition to blocking national development”, impose “an unacceptable burden” on the commuters of Galway city and county and on “all Galway businesses”.

'We need to get commuters in and out of our industrial estates swiftly, without having to go near the city centre'

Cllr Larkin agrees and said assisting local businesses was vital, particularly the hospitality industry, especially given the restrictions and challenges of the last year.

“One voice we have not heard enough of is the hospitality industry,” he said. “This project will benefit tourists visiting west Galway/Connemara, as currently, being stuck in a traffic-clogged town is a deterrent for many people.

“After the huge drop in our tourist industry in the past year, shouldn’t we be doing everything in our power to promote tourism? Our city is famous for the races, the arts festival, our pubs, and the ‘craic’, but over the past few years the main topic that crops up when Galway is mentioned is the chronic traffic congestion.”

The commuter case

Covid-19, the lockdowns, and the various restrictions have seen a noticeable easing of traffic and a reduction in congestion and tailbacks, but many fear the post-pandemic period will result in a reversion to the city’s chronic traffic problems.

“As we gradually begin to return to some form of normality, it would be great to think this reduction in traffic and ease of access in and out of our city could remain - and it can,” said Cllr Larkin. “We need to get commuters in and out of our industrial estates swiftly, without having to go near the city centre. The N6 GCRR will facilitate the reduction of existing traffic congestion and future proof the effectiveness of this part of the national road network.

“It will serve the traffic currently trying to cross the city via the existing N6, as well as the traffic currently trying to rat-run through the city by using housing estates.”

Goals of the ring road

Cllr Larkin is confident that on April 30, ABP will give the go-ahead to the ring road, and argues that far from increasing traffic, it will disperse traffic from the city centre, and allow for the development of environmentally friendly transport modes.

'We have the solution within our grasp. Let’s use it to improve and enhance the quality of life for all commuters'

He said it will support Galway’s economic growth by improving connectivity; improve accessibility to the Gaeltacht and tourist attractions across Connemara, and the western region more generally; and provide an essential link in the European Transport Infrastructure comprehensive transport network which will connect the West of Ireland to the single European market.

Driving Speeding

Cllr Larkin also believes the ring road will enable other public projects to be realised and will facilitate the effective implementation of the Galway Transport Strategy; support a shift towards sustainable transport and mobility systems; assist in providing safer urban streets by segregating the interface of by-passable traffic from urban traffic; and reduce and improve journey times by removing ‘bottlenecks’.

“When An Bord Pleanala gives the go-ahead for the Galway City Project we will be ready,” he said. “We have the solution within our grasp. Let’s use it to improve and enhance the quality of life for all commuters. Let’s move into the 21st Century.”

 

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