The works on the Lough Atalia Bridge will come to an end on Friday night and, barring unforseen circumstances, the road at the bridge will be open by Saturday morning. However the one-way system which is operating inbound along Lough Atalia Road and outbound at College Rd will remain in place for the next three weeks to trial how it will operate after the road reopens.
Galway city council officials said the revised traffic arrangements had worked well in minimising congestion and they have received positive feedback on the one way system, which has been in place since the roadworks began at the beginning of April. The one pressure point is at Forster Street with traffic in the left lane of the Lough Atalia Road experiencing long tailbacks if trying to access Eyre Square. City officials say the opening of the road at the bridge (meaning traffic in the left lane will now be able to drive straight on to the docks ) will hopefully alleviate the tailbacks. Traffic coming from the harbour/docks area outbound will be forced to turn up Fairgreen Road and leave the city via College Road.
The ban on the two right turns at the Moneenageisha junction will also continue - there is currently no right turn permitted from Moneenageisha Road on to College Road or from the Dublin Road on to the Wellpark Road.
On completion of the three week traffic assessment, a report will be issued to the city council recommending the best course of action for the future.
Independent councillor Terry O’Flaherty said if the one-way system was to operate on a permanent basis it would have to be done with the agreement of affected residents, particularly those living on College Road.
Fine Gael councillor Padraig Conneelly was critical of the fact the road under the bridge would not reopen until late Friday night or early Saturday morning. “The bank holiday weekend begins at 8am on Friday. All you have to do is look at the tailbacks people were dealing with over the past two Fridays. It will be twice as bad this weekend due to the bank holiday, this is one of the busiest weekends of the year. Could works not be completed on Thursday night, we surely owe the people of this city that much, for putting up with this for the past eight weeks?”
Cllr Conneelly then proposed a motion that the bridge be opened by Friday morning to facilitate bank holiday traffic. This motion was seconded by Councillor Frank Fahy.
Mervue councillor Declan McDonnell also appealed for the roadworks to be completed by Thursday night. “Businesses have suffered for seven weeks, this weekend is crucial for them. Some have reported a trade reduction of 60 or 70 per cent and they are getting no compensation.”
Director of services for transport Joe O’Neill said it was not possible to get the works completed a day before the scheduled finish date. “I appreciate fully that people have been discommoded. The contractors have done really well to get the work done within the timeframe, it has been a well managed project. It is not possible to work through the night, we would be in breach of our own conditions. A safety audit must take place on Friday, we cannot open the road without completing this audit. It would be unsafe to do so.’’
Regarding the trial period of three weeks when the one way system will remain in place, Mr O’Neill said he would welcome feedback on the plan. “We want to access the impacts of the options under consideration - there will be positives and negatives and we will consider our options. It is small moves like this that can help our traffic issues. We will have the benefit of seeing how it works with the bridge open and inbound traffic being able to access the harbour again. If this trial works it could become a permanent measure and everybody will reap the benefits of that.”