An oral hearing will be held in the autumn into proposals for a new motorway service area on the M6 near Oranmore.
The plans have come in for heated criticism in the past from members of Galway County Council, on the grounds that the development would have a negative impact on the Galway Plaza service area at Kiltullagh.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland – formerly the National Roads Authority – appointed consultants in 2015 in identify a site between Junction 17 (Athenry) and J19 (Oranmore) which would cater for users of both the M6 and the new M17/18 Gort-Tuam which is nearing completion.
Six potential sites have been narrowed down the three – south of the M6, around 5.5km north east of Oranmore in the townland of Lisheenkyle West.
It will be located closer to the Rathmorrissey interchange, where the two motorways will meet.
The plans for the site include refuelling facilities, toilets, showers, shops, restaurants, café, car parking, HGV parking, play areas, picnic areas and ponds.
Unlike the Enfield service areas eastbound and westbound on the M4, the Galway plan is for a single side of the motorway, as traffic volumes will be less than 40,000 vehicles per day when it opens – the cut-off point which dictates whether one or two areas are requires.
When the proposals were first presented to Galway County Council in 2015, several councillors raised concerns it would have a negative impact on the Supermac’s Galway Plaza, as well as nearby towns and villages.
Engineer Peter Morehan of consultants CH2M Barry – charged by TII with drawing up the plans – said road safety is the main reason for the construction of the new service area.
He said that 20% of road accidents are related to fatigue and there are currently large sections of motorway that are not facilitated by any services.
Mr Morehan said it is important for drivers to take a break and rest, while for HGV drivers, it is legislation for them to stop at regular intervals.
It’s understood the pre-application process has been completed between TII, the County Council and An Bórd Pleanála, and TII will soon submit the application directly to the Board. If given planning approval, construction work will begin next year, and it will be operational by the middle of 2019.