Will removing roundabouts cause greater congestion?

Mixed response to plans to rid city of its roundabouts

Galway’s days as the ‘Roundabout city’ could be coming to an end with new plans to remove seven of the city’s roundabouts and replace them with signalised junctions.

However the proposed new signalised junctions are to similar to the one at Moneenageisha, and this has resulted in the new plans receiving a decidedly mixed response from councillors.

Mayor Michael J Crowe has questioned the effectiveness of any such change, while councillor Pádraig Conneely said motorists’ experience of Moneenageisha should give cause for concern.

Independent councillor Catherine Connolly has welcomed the proposals though, saying they will “go a long way to making the city more accessible”.

The roundabouts proposed for removal are located along the N6 Bothar na dTreabh and include the Lynch Roundabout at Briarhill; the Morris and Font Roundabouts at Ballybane and on the Tuam Road; the Bodkin Roundabout at the Galway Shopping Centre; and the Brown Roundabout at Corrib Park.

Plans to remove the Briarhill roundabout are already on public display and works are to begin in September. Plans to remove the other six will be rolled out then and will include co-ordinated traffic plans, including the co-ordination of the traffic lights from a central office. The proposed works are understood to cost €6 million.

Cllr Connolly says the roundabouts are “positively dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists” . “They have been the source of extreme frustration for motorists, as evidenced by the frequency of road traffic accidents and have led to unacceptable traffic congestion.”

The proposals were unveiled at Monday’s city council meeting when AECOM consultants made a presentation to city councillors. AECOM’s study highlighted the city’s roundabouts as hazardous and inefficient.

However many councillors expressed fears that traffic problems in the city centre may worsen.

Councillors welcomed the proposal to improve the flow of traffic through the city, but the legacy of traffic problems at Moneenageisha since the intelligent traffic light system was installed did not instil confidence.

Councillor Pádraig Conneely was doubtful the plan will be of any benefit.

“Two cars cannot get around the roundabout at Coolagh after spending six million on it, and you expect me to have confidence in the NRA,” he said. “There is nothing intelligent about the lights at Moneenageisha, with gridlock at three o’clock on a Monday afternoon. You couldn’t get one right, and now you want permission to work on seven. I’d be very reluctant to give you any approval.”

Mayor Michael Crowe said: “I supported the lights at Moneenageisha, but it doesn’t work. Are these changes going to make any significant difference? As of now I wouldn’t be supportive of this proposal.”

AECOM representative Elaine Brick said there were many benefits of the system.

“We have looked at many options for each roundabout, and we have lessons to learn from Moneenageisha,” she said. “The N6 will become a more attractive option than rat runs through the city centre, and along the Dublin road. We have a distributor road at the moment that is not working, and we need to improve the facilities to encourage cyclists.”

If the plan is passed, works will begin at the end of the summer, starting with the Lynch roundabout at Briarhill, and working along the route to the final roundabout in Westside. It is estimated the project will be completed in 18 months.

The NRA are committed to provide €6 million in funding for the project over two years should it go ahead.

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