Plans to build a bus corridor through Merlin Park Woods look set to be scrapped as councillors move to have the controversial proposal deleted from the Galway City Development Plan.
Fine Gael councillor Frank Fahy has tabled a motion for the February council meeting that the proposal be scrapped. He is confident he has the numbers to get his motion on to the table for discussion and to pass it when it comes up for an official vote.
The road is proposed to go from lights at Bodkin’s Bar into Merlin Park, through the north and south sections of the woods, through Doughiska Park, and out to the Doughiska Road towards the roundabout. On Monday councillors and City Hall officials walked the route of the proposed road.
Cllr Fahy is opposed to the road on environmental, financial, and practical grounds. He said the cost of the roadworks is estimated at €6 million, but could cost anything up to €10 million.
He also said the road is “unnecessary” and that a new bus lane from the former Corrib Great Southern eastwards on the Dublin Road would be a more practical and effective solution that would achieve more in terms of reducing traffic congestion and travel times, and encouraging use of public transport.
Cllr Fahy is a member of the Friends of Merlin Woods. The group will make a presentation at a joint meeting of all four of the Galway City Council’s special policy committees in the Menlo Park Hotel tomorrow at 3pm.
The group has also launched a petition which more than 1,500 people have signed opposing the proposed plan for a road through the woods.
“Merlin Woods is the jewel in the eastern suburbs of Galway city,” Cllr Fahy told the Galway Advertiser. “It must be preserved in its entirety. It is a fantastic amenity. There are trees there 200 years old. I don’t buy arguments that they are near the end of their life, I say let them be there for another 100 years. Galway has very few mature parks and we should do all we can to protect and promote them, not destroy them.”
Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish has also called on City Hall to look at alternatives to the proposed bus corridor.
“Just because it is in the city development plan, does not mean it is a good policy,” he said. “This is a very popular location for walkers, it’s a wildlife habitat with mature trees, and to destroy the woodland to build a bus corridor is crazy.”