Motorists and commuters in Galway city facing a minimum of eight weeks disruption

Long awaited roadworks at Lough Atalia bridge will cause mayhem for commuters when they begin next month according to one city councillor.

It was confirmed at this week’s local authority meeting that adequate funding is in place for the work, which includes regrading and realigning the road running under the bridge. The improvement measures are taking place due to safety concerns, as the bridge was the location of several collisions in recent years.

The development which will cost in the region of €2 million is being funded via a €1.5 million grant from The Department of Transport with the balance to be allocated in 2016.

Contracts are due to be signed by the third week of February with initial work to begin in the first week of March. A section of the Lough Atalia Road around the bridge will close on March 18 until mid May.

There will be advance messaging signs on the route and a traffic management plan has been put in place which incorporates a temporary one-way flow of traffic on Lough Atalia Road and Fairgreen Road inbound and College Road to the Lough Atalia Road junction outbound.

Part of the plan is also to try to alleviate traffic at the Moneenageisha junction by omitting two right turns that are currently allowed at the junction. For the period of the roadworks, motorists coming down Moneenageisha hill will not be allowed turn right on to College Road, or those driving inbound on the Dublin Road will not be allowed turn right on to the Wellpark Road.

Councillor Michael Crowe questioned the thought process behind negating these turns. It was explained that only a small percentage of users of that junction were actually using those two right turns, and omitting them would ensure the other lights turn green quicker and speed up the flow of traffic for others.

When the road closure on Lough Atalia comes to an end, the traffic management plan will remain in place for a further two to three weeks. It is the Galway City Council’s intention that the works will be fully completed by the first week of June. A member of the project team is being assigned to liaise with local businesses, residents, and other stakeholders.

Speaking at this week’s local authority meeting, a number of councillors outlined the importance of getting the roadworks completed within the allocated timeframe. Independent representative Declan McDonnell enquired if there would be a fine for the contractor involved if he did not get the work done within eight weeks. It was pointed out there was an incentive system in place for the contractor to ensure the work was finished on time.

The Mervue councillor also raised the issue of the traffic lights at the Forster Street junction which he claimed were the slowest in town. “If we don’t have a decent flow of traffic on Forster Street, we will have huge problems in Eyre Square.’’ Director of services for transport Joe O’Neill said the lights sequence in Forster Street would be changed.

Fellow Independent, Renmore based Terry O’Flaherty, said the Gardai should be brought on board to help traffic in the area. “There is going to be mayhem down there. There is mayhem as it is. If the Gardai can direct traffic for the Galway Races, surely they can do it in this situation.”

Joe O’Neill said he was very conscious of the disruption the roadworks would cause to motorists, residents and businesses. “We would obviously like people to use other routes if at all possible. The importance of getting it done in the quickest possible timeframe cannot be understated. We will be linking in with the Gardai to discuss what role they will play alongside our own traffic wardens.’’

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