The Galway City Outer Bypass is dead but other transport solutions to traffic congestion in and around the city are not so it’s time to look to these other solutions and go back to the drawing board regarding the bypass.
These are the views of Green Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin and Fine Gael Cllr Brian Walsh, who despite representing very different views on the controversial outer bypass, both feel a fresh look at the entire subject needs to be taken.
The Galway City Outer Bypass sought to connect the N6 (Galway to Ballinasloe road ) in Garraun North (in south east Co Galway ) with the R336 (coast road to An Spidéal ) in An Baile Nua, including a link from a junction at Cappagh to the Western Distributor Road.
On Monday, ABP approved the part of the bypass between Garraun and Gortatleva, but refused permission for the part between Gortaleva and An Baile Nua, including the Western Distributor connection.
In it’s report, ABP refused permission for the western half saying it would have a negative affect on the slender cotton grass at Tonabrocky Bog and that there were “fundamental shortcomings” in sections of the bypass’ design in it’s western section.
Joe Tansey, head of the Galway City Council’s Galway Transportation Unit welcomed the decision saying the fact that permission was granted for a second bridge over the Corrib is positive news.
He also said the unit is assessing the implications of the ABP decision “on our future strategic options for alleviating traffic congestion in Galway”.
However if the bypass is constructed according to Monday’s decision, a major state of the art road would be built but end in and around the Bushy Park/Knocknacarra area before linking up with an ordinary road.
Cllr Donal Lyons - who expressed “disappointment” at ABP’s decision - said this could result in rat running through Rahoon and Bushy Park, traffic congestion in south Connemara and Knocknacarra, and bottlenecks where the bypass meets the N59 (Clifden road ).
Cllr Brian Walsh said Galway must now go “back to the drawing board” on the bypass issue. He is calling for work to proceed on the section which has been granted permission and that a re-design on the western section “avoiding the contentious areas” is needed.
However he fears the nature of ABP’s decision, particularly in a time of economic downturn, could be used by the Government as an excuse not to proceed with the eastern section of the bypass, in that it will not be a complete bypass catering for the city and surrounding area.
Cllr Lyons agrees work should go ahead on the section which has received permission or else there will be “severe congestion as soon as the traffic hits Doughiska” coming in from Ballinasloe. He fears any future delays in constructing a bypass could result in “a further 10 years of traffic congestion in the city”.
City businessman Brendan Holland, who is also a member of the Galway City Business Association, said the decision is a “major disappointment” and said it will be a blow to the tourist industry in Connemara to “find that the road is not going to be completed”.
Although Cllr Niall Ó Brolcháin had long opposed the bypass, he said he took no pleasure from the ABP decision.
“I’m frustrated that so much political capital was spent on this singular project,” he said. “We put all our eggs in one basket and didn’t pursue a more integrated approach. It’s a shame we didn’t take such an approach when we had the money. Now we’re left with a situation where we have no bypass and no alternatives either.”
Cllr Ó Brolcháin said that while the bypass was dead, transport solutions in Galway were not.
“The transport situation is intolerable,” he said, “but there are solutions we can pursue which will be cheaper than the bypass and have a much greater effect than it.”
The Green councillor said the establishment of the transport unit in City Hall will be of help. He also called on the Galway City Council to implement the bus study and support the proposals for the GLUAS system.
He also called for the implementation of the urban traffic management control system, a system for traffic lights which he says will help the traffic flow quicker and easier around town.
“There is also park and ride,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this for years. We have it at Christmas, why not permanently? We need to establish permanent park and ride centres for the city.”
The Galway Transportation Unit has announced that consultants have been appointed to undertake the Public Transport Feasibility Study for Galway city. The study will serve to determine the most suitable public transport options for Galway and will include an assessment of the viability of light rail and bus rapid transit. The deadline for completion of this work is April 2009.