Bill to repair city storm damage could top €1.3 million

The bill for reinstating the city’s coastline and Leisureland in Salthill to its pre-storm condition will come to more than €1.3 million, according to a preliminary estimate of costs which was presented at the Galway City Council meeting on Monday.

The estimates contained in a Report on Winter Storms is based on clean-up reinstatement, making all public areas safe including footpaths, ramps, beaches, and promenade, public use buildings, making them suitable for maintenance and returning coastal protection to pre-storm conditions. Four main areas of coastline damage was identified in the report. These include Silverstrand, Blackrock to Birdoo (the pathway running along othe back of the golf club ), Blackrock to South Park, and Ballyloughane Beach. It is estimated that the overall cost for repairing these areas will come to €882,375.

The cost for the re-instatement and remediation works to Leisureland is estimated to be in excess of €500,000. However, councillors were later informed the council will be fully reimbursed by the insurance companies which will be covering this cost.

The largest spend will be €372,375 for repairs along Blackrock to South Park. The main bulk of the money will go on footpath resurfacing (€70,000 ), public lighting, damage and repairs (€61,375 ), Celia Griffin Park footpaths (€40,000 ), rock armour (€30,000 ), general clean-up (€30,000 ), and street furniture/bins (€25,000 ). A figure of €275,000 could be needed for repairs from Blackrock to Birdoo with €100,000 of this being spent on the reconstruction of the footpath base, €100,000 on the footpath surface, €40,000 on rock armour/supply, €20,000 on rock armour/placing, and €15,000 on general clean-up. The estimated cost for remediation works for Silverstrand comes to a total of €125,000 with €44,500 of this being spent on the roadway, €30,000 on the access ramp railings, €15,000 on rock armour, €15,000 on the general clean-up, stones, and seaweed disposal, €5,500 on the bounday wall, and the remainder on repairs to access ramps, damage to toilet building/changing shelter, and footpath repairs. For repairs at Ballyloughane Beach a total figure of €110,000 will be needed with €60,000 of this being spent on the general clean-up, €40,000 on footpaths, and €10,000 on railings/signs/bins.

In the report city manager Brendan McGrath said: “From Thursday, December 19, 2013 through to Monday, January 6, 2014, Galway city in general and our shoreline in particular, has been hit by four major storms. We barely had a chance to draw breath and clean up from one event before the onslaught began again.” He commended staff at all levels for their “unstinting and effective work” as well as the “high-level of effective co-operation throughout with our colleagues in Galway Fire and Rescue Service, An Gárda Siochána in both Mill Street and Salthill and with the Galway Harbour Company”. He also praised the media and elected members for effectively contributing to the dissemination of information to the general public in a timely manner.

Director of services Billy Dunne explained that the estimate on restoring infrastructure will be put through for funding under the minor works scheme as soon as possible. According to the report, Galway city has been identified as a flood risk area in the Western Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Programme and that as a result any long term flood defence systems will be addressed under this programme. A final report is due for completion by the end of 2015/early 2016 and surveys of beaches in Salthill will take place in February 2014 to develop beach profiling. A wave over-topping model is also due for completion this coming June. These will inform the development of permanent flood defence systems for Salthill and Galway city.

Councillors call for flood barrier at Fishmarket Quay

“This was a council working for the people of the city,” said Cllr Terry O’Flahery who called for a temporary wall to be constructed in the Fishmarket Quay area to deal with the flooding. Backing this, Cllr Niall McNelis whose own business Claddagh and Celtic Jewellery finally re-opened on Monday following flood damage, advised the council to assess the costs incurred by businesses in Salthill and the city centre, some of which are still closed.

Cllr Billy Cameron suggested installing barriers at Fishmarket Quay similar to those currently being used in Waterford and which are “unobtrusive and built into the environment”. In relation to the flooding of businesses in Lower Salthill such as Mortons, Cllr Cameron added: “Years ago water came in as far as the Crescent and Sea Road. A lot of that land was reclaimed from the sea and the sea is reclaiming it back.”

Regarding safety concerns, Cllr Colette Connolly and Cllr Donal Lyons noted how despite the council erecting barriers, bollards, and signs some members of the public did not take notice. Cllr Lyons explained how despite the danger, people are still trying to get across the wall to access the walkway from Blackrock to Birdoo. He also proposed a motion, which was passed, asking the council to use this opportunity to install electrical ducting along the walkway in preparation for the future installation of public lighting.

Mr Dunne explained that he will be looking a temporary solution for Fishmarket Quay which can be installed when a weather alert is issued to mitigate the risk to nearby premises. He warned against doing “something on an ad hoc basis” and that the OPW is investigating flood prone areas. Regarding flooding in lower Salthill, the council will be trying to maintain flood waters on the prom by erecting barriers from the prom wall into the park. A proposal for early warning systemes is also being put together. Mr Dunne dismissed the idea of installing permanent bollards to close off dangerous areas as there is a requirement to provide access for emergency services and to properties. A motion, proposed by Cllr Lyons, was also passed calling for the council to examine more robust temporary flood defence system at Fishmarket Quay.

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