Galway's traffic woes are to be compounded by a return to the two way system on Lough Atalia and College Road the chair of the Galway City Business Association has warned. The association is calling for the current one-way system to be retained - at the very least until the end of the summer.
Áine Feeney says at a recent board meeting of members, the 12 business owners present voted in favour of the one-way system. Miss Feeney has now requested a meeting with city CEO Brendan McGrath to discuss the issue. "It is an awful shame, it appears that a minority of people are being heard over the views of the majority of motorists, commuters, and businesses. The new traffic system clearly works well, people are finding it easier to get to work, to shop and socialise in town. A one-way traffic plan was something which was proposed by the harbourmaster as far back as 2008, so it was even recognised back then that this was the way forward."
Lough Atalia and College Road became one-way at the beginning of April to facilitate major roadworks under the Lough Atalia Bridge. Following the completion of works, the bridge reopened over the June Bank Holiday weekend. However Galway City Council announced the traffic plan would remain in place for a three-week period to trial how it would operate with the road under the bridge open and traffic once again flowing freely to and from the docks. This three week period will end tomorrow and the original system returns this weekend.
It is an issue that has proved contentious over the past number of weeks due to the dissenting views about the traffic plan. The majority of commuters appear to be in favour of the one way arrangement, while many city-centre businesses are claiming the free-flowing traffic is increasing footfall with more people now inclined to travel into town. Miss Feeney says one of the big concerns of business association members over the past number of years has been the amount of people who are travelling to Athlone to do their shopping due to the traffic issues in Galway.
"Our members have noticed a marked increase in trade. People are now more inclined to do business in the city centre once again," she said. "Tour operators, coach drivers, and visitors alike have been giving really positive feedback about the new system. Our fear is the big tour buses will stop coming into the city centre if the traffic goes back to being as bad as it was."
Against a one-way system
Residents of College Road and Lough Atalia have mounted a vocal campaign to get the original two way system restored. The issue led to a protest outside the monthly council meeting at City Hall last week. A huge concern has been the speed at which cars are now travelling along both roads. Gardai were out in force with their speed cameras at both locations recently and have caught a number of motorists breaking the 50kmph limit. Indeed, speeds of more than 90kmph were recorded along Lough Atalia.
Ms Feeney says she understands the concerns of the residents, particularly in relation to the speeding issue, but feels if the one-way system was left in place, any outstanding concerns could be ironed out. "I know the B&Bs on College Road have suffered due to tourists not being able to find them, I think if the council put better signage in place this could be easily overcome. I know the residents also feel there is extra driving involved to access their homes but I don't really see how this is a major hindrance as traffic on these routes is now moving so quicky.''