THE planning application for the city’s €600m Outer Bypass will be lodged directly with An Bord Pleanála in early July of this year, a sub-committee of the City Council has been informed.
The City Council’s Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC), was told that the planning application would be submitted in early July – the first step in a planning process that could take a number of years to complete.
Cllr Peter Keane confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that the SPC was told of the proposed date for the lodging of the planning application – a move, that he said, should clear the way towards providing Galway’s ‘most critical ever piece of infrastructure’.
He said that because the project had been IROPI designated (Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest), it could be submitted directly to the Planning Authority for consideration.
“While this will only be one part of the solution to our transport problems, I believe that it will be the single most important piece of infrastructure ever to be provided in the city.
“We just cannot continue with a situation where 70% of the traffic that travels west to east each morning in Galway has to go through the city centre, without having any need to.
“I am still hoping that we can have ‘shovels on the ground’ by late 2019 or by early 2020 and I think that every effort has to be made to get this project underway, sooner rather than later,” said Cllr. Keane.
He said that current traffic congestion levels were ‘unacceptable’ and he felt ‘certain’ that the provision of the Galway City Outer Bypass (officially titled the ‘N6 Galway City Ring Road’) would ‘alleviate the suffering’ of many commuters from the Knocknacarra community.
Last December, the consultants charged with designing the 16km route – from the east of the city at a super-junction north of the Galway Clinic to junction with the Coast Road west of Barna – said that the project had a start-up date of 2021 and a completion date of 2024.
ARUP Consultant Engineers, told a meeting of the City Council late last year, that the project would be ‘shovel ready’ by 2021 and be completed three years later, subject to planning approval.
According to ARUP, the project has been costed at €593 million, and will, when completed, have the status of an urban motorway with hard shoulders and a central concrete median.
Two tunnels for the project – at Galway Racecourse and the Lackagh Quarries site – have been scaled back considerably in size from the original plans, but 42 houses along the route will still have to be demolished, according to ARUP.
Cllr Keane has warned that politically, Galway needs to ‘keep its eye on the ball’ to ensure that it stays on top of the priority list for transport spending, especially in the context of proposals being advanced for the Limerick-to-Cork motorway.
“We really do need to keep this at the top of the agenda in terms of priority projects for capital spending. We don’t need any more false dawns – this project needs to be copper-fastened over the coming months and years,” said Cllr. Keane.