Fears over downgrading of county roads

The Rathmorrissey interchange, where the new M17/18 will meet the M6.

Galway County Councillors continue to be perplexed and annoyed by the proposal to downgrade a number of national secondary roads to regional roads after the opening of the new Gort-Tuam motorway.

And while Michael Timmons, Director of Services for Roads and Transportation at Galway County Council, confirmed that some roads would indeed be re-categorised as regional roads, he said there was no question of downgrading any road.

Councillors had asked for a special plenary of the Council to discuss the proposed downgrade of National Secondary Roads — the N59, N67, N84 and other roads affected by Transport Infrastructure Irelands’s new proposals.

Each councillors of course was concerned about roads in their own areas — Cllr Niamh Byrne was reassured that the N59 was not being downgraded but that its status would change and so accordingly would speed limits on the road.

Cllr Tom Welby said that the council should look for funds to upgrade the N59 from Oughterard to Galway rather than looking to reduce speed limits on it as the Road Safety Authority also sought safety measures to be implemented on roads as well as reducing speed limits.

Mr Timmins said that speed limits would be affected on a number of roads following the opening of the new motorway but that the roads would remain national secondary roads.

Councillors have concerns that changing a road to a regional road means less funding from Central Government and more work for the local authority.

Cllr Tim Broderick warned that monies should be requested now for roads as it wouldn’t be available in the future.

“By changing the priority of the road we will get significantly reduced funding,” he warned.

A number of councillors announced they didn’t trust the TII and had no faith in their ability to operate the road network or local knowhow on what speed limits were suitable.

“I don’t trust the TII,” said Cllr Michael Connolly, “based on their record.”

Cllr Frank Kearney said he didn’t trust them either to provide anything extra for the local authority as regards funding, proper signage or maintenance.

Mr Timmins said that the TII’s aim was to improve the road network nationally, not to downgrade any roads, though he did concede that the N66 (Gort to Loughrea road) would be reverting to a regional road.

Cllr Pete Roche said he believed the N63 (Galway to Roscommon road) too was being re-classified as a regional road, a fact he found interesting in light of it being a feeder road to the new motorway.

On a different but related matter, councillors decided to defer a motion that 10% of any additional monies allocated from Central Government be allocated to roads within 25km of Galway city.