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CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

CITY TRIBUNE

Old pre-fabs create a stink for University Hospital Galway

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From the Galway City Tribune: The HSE has drawn up site-clearance plans for University Hospital Galway, to make way for what will eventually be the permanent Emergency Department and a new Women’s and Children’s block.

The health authority has blamed the old pre-fabs for “unacceptable foul odours” from the drainage system.

The HSE has now sought planning permission for the demolition of the temporary pre-fab offices used as for the segregation of the ‘old’ Emergency Department during the Covid pandemic and pre-fab buildings used for outpatients services and the building used for security.

At the end of last year, the new Temporary Emergency Department (TED) opened its doors – part of which will form the new €450m ED and Women and Children’s block which the HSE hopes will open in 2029.

“The removal of residual temporary buildings and two single-storey sections of the permanent buildings is now required to progress the clearance of the site for the proposed ED and Women’s & Children’s block.

“The demolition works include removing redundant mechanical and electrical services and utilities, which cross the site, and associated asbestos removal. They also include removal of site works such as concrete ramps, steps and railings.

“Notwithstanding the requirement to remove the buildings to clear the site, the greater part of the buildings have reached the end of their useful life.

“There are also significant infrastructural problems associated with them, particularly foul drainage. The buildings have been built over the existing foul drainage system and parts of it are inaccessible.

“There have been continuing maintenance difficulties, which have resulted in unacceptable foul odours and blockages.


This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


“Reinstatement works comprise blocking up openings which previously formed links between the hospital main block and the buildings to be removed, reinstating roads and footpaths to a safe condition and temporary surfacing of the site.

“The existing consultants’ carpark will be reinstated to 2019 configuration, prior to the pandemic, to provide the same number of spaces at that time,” the application reads.

A demolition plan included as part of the application noted that if any asbestos is encountered on site, it must be transported under a hazardous waste licence to a landfill or hazardous waste facility by specialist contractors.

A decision is expected from Galway City Council at the beginning of May.

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CITY TRIBUNE

New Galway transportation strategy will be published by end of year

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From the City Tribune: A new Galway Transportation Strategy – to take account of the national Climate Action Plan 2023 – is due to be published by the end of this year, according to Green Party Minister, Eamon Ryan.

In reply to a Dáil question from Galway West Independent TD Catherine Connolly, the Transport Minister said that the new plan would also include a feasibility study on a light rail system for the city.

The revised Transportation Strategy, known as GMATS (Galway Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy), has already gone out to tender with the National Transport Authority (NTA) currently assessing the submissions received.

“A feasibility study of light rail will be undertaken as part of the development of the new strategy which will replace the current Galway Transport Strategy,” Minister Ryan stated in his reply to Deputy Connolly.

He added that once the tender assessment process was completed, the composition of the new strategy team would then be known.

“The NTA will undertake a comprehensive public consultation exercise on a draft GMATS as part of the development process, with an expected publication of a final strategy before the end of 2023,” Minister Ryan stated.


This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.


As well as the NTA, Galway City and County Councils are involved in the process which is designed to incorporate actions included in the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2023.

This plan, which was adopted by Government on December 21 last, takes account of the carbon budgets and sectoral emissions ceilings agreed by Cabinet earlier in 2022.

Some of the key goals in the Climate Action Plan include one in three cars to be electric by 2030 with walking, cycling and public transport to account for 50% of all daily trips.

GMATS is also expected to examine plans for the City Bypass Project which has been allocated a further €3 million in this year’s roads budget by Galway County Council.

Earlier this year, the High Court quashed a Bord Pleanála decision giving the go-ahead for the €600 million City Ring Road, because the Board did not consider the Climate Action Plan when they approved the project.

According to Oranmore area councillor, Liam Carroll, €33 million has already been spent on the Ring Road project. “I hope that is not a black hole,” he said.

In her Dáil question to Minister Ryan, Deputy Connolly, asked about the status of the preparations for carrying out the promised feasibility study of light rail in Galway.

She also wanted to know the status and membership of the specialist team involved in the updating of the Galway Transport Strategy over the coming months.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway leak detection team flushed with success

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A major leak detection programme uncovered the loss of around 850,000 litres of water each day near Taylor’s Hill.

Uisce Éireann, the rebranded Irish Water, compared the figure to the daily usage of the entire population of Ballinasloe and described it as “colossal”.

Gerry O’Donnell, Leakage Reduction Programme Manager, described the find on Rosary Lane as “one of the largest savings of our precious resource this year in the North-West Region.”

“It’s hard to understand that more than 850,000 litres of clean drinking water were disappearing underground every day. Water is a valuable resource and expensive to produce so finding this leak and successfully repairing it was of paramount importance.”

A spike in water usage in the Taylor’s Hill area was noticed by the City Council and Uisce Éireann. However, there was a challenge in identifying the exact location of the water loss on the underground public network as there was no water surfacing.

An assessment by the local authority’s leak detection crew followed. Step testing work coupled with specialised detection equipment allowed the team to pinpoint the location of the leak.

Kieran Garvey, Executive Engineer with Galway City Council, said: “For our leak detection team to have found this leak and the subsequent improvement to the network is a massive win.”

Gerry O’Donnell added: “The finding of this leak is testament to the expertise and knowledge within Galway City Council’s Find and Fix crews.”

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