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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors’ unease at €7.2m price tag for new bridge

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The design of the proposed new bridge adjacent to the Salmon Weir Bridge.

The €7.2 million price tag for a new pedestrian and cycling bridge planned adjacent to the Salmon Weir Bridge has unsettled elected members of Galway City Council.

At a meeting last week, several city councillors questioned the logic of spending that figure on a new footbridge bridge.

A number of councillors suggested that it would be a ‘waste of money’, because the existing Salmon Weir Bridge would still be used by pedestrians. They suggested that the existing bridge should be turned into a pedestrian bridge, and the new bridge should be vehicular.

Robert Ryan, engineer with Arup Consultants, gave a presentation outlining the ‘emerging preferred option’ for a new crossing adjacent to the existing bridge.

Arup, he said, had a “huge sense of responsibility” to deliver a bridge “of the highest quality”. It was a “hugely iconic site” and they are proposing an “iconic” bridge that would stand the test of time and “outlive all of us”, he said.

Arup, which has offices in Ballybrit, was involved in the Mary Elmes Bridge in Cork and the pedestrian Living Bridge in University of Limerick. Seán Harrington Architects, which designed the Rosie Hackett Bridge in Dublin, are involved with Arup on the proposed new Galway bridge.

Mr Harrington told councillors that the proposed bridge – for pedestrians and cyclists – was “totally unique to the location, and totally unique to Galway”.

How the bridge would look during the construction phase.

The location is “hugely significant” for migrating salmon, hence its name. It was not just an A to B crossing either – the new bridge would cross “three water courses”, something Mr Harrington had “never seen before”.

It will be south of the existing bridge, and links Cathedral Square with Newtownsmyth. Separate plans to possibly pedestrianise Newtownsmyth are not linked with this project, officials confirmed. Mr Harrington said if it was “too close to the existing bridge, you’d clog it up”, and wouldn’t get a proper view of the new bridge.

Mr Ryan said the bridge could be constructed off-site, which would take 12 months, and could be assembled on location “over one weekend”. It was a highly sensitive area, and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which complicated matters.

Officials agreed, under questioning from elected members, that the existing bridge would still have pedestrian access after the new bridge is built – the ‘northern’ footpath would have to be retained because that side of the bridge was a ‘protected view’, and couldn’t be seen from the new bridge because the old one would be blocking it.

Ollie Crowe, who spoke on behalf of the five Fianna Fáil councillors, said the existing bridge was 200 years old, and was in need of repair. He suggested it was preferable to build a new vehicular bridge, and convert the existing bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

Cllr Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) said her main issue was the proposal was presented in isolation, without a Local Area Plan, or an overall vision for pedestrians and cycling city-wide. “How does it fit-in with the overall city,” she asked.

Cllr Colette Connolly said €7.2m was “an enormous amount of money” and Cllr Donal Lyons asked “Is this value for money?”.

Mr Ryan said the Mary Ellis Bridge in Cork cost €5m but the proposed Galway bridge was 30% larger, and in an SAC which made it more complicated and so more expensive.

Mayor Mike Cubbard (Ind) said the pedestrianisation of Newtownsmyth could cause chaos and the existing bridge crossing was dangerous. Cllr Declan McDonnell doubted whether pedestrians and cyclists coming from NUIG direction would actually use the new bridge if the existing bridge still had a footpath on it.

Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) wondered whether a fig tree, growing on the side of the existing bridge was “protected”, and would that cause hiccups in the planning process. Apparently, he said, the fig tree was “one of the eighth wonders of the world – it shouldn’t be there, but it is,” he said.

Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) asked whether they had investigated adding on a pedestrian leg to the existing bridge, like they have done at O’Brien’s Bridge. If that could be done for half the cost, Cllr Hoare said he would be in favour of it, no matter whether it looked ‘iconic’ or not.

Uinsinn Finn, Senior Executive Engineer with Galway City Council, said they did look at the O’Brien’s Bridge type option, but felt that a standalone new bridge would be preferable and more likely to get approval from An Bórd Pleanala, because the existing bridge was a protected structure. The new bridge proposal was being brought forward because it was part of the Galway Transport Strategy, which councillors had approved, he said.

The existing bridge has a daily footfall of 11,000, councillors heard. The new bridge would be a shared rather than segregated space for cyclists and pedestrians, with seating and viewing points at its midspan, which would be eight metres in total in the centre. At the entrance to each bridge would be a glass circle to view the water running underneath.

A workshop for councillors will take place on Friday, November 29. Galway cycling groups have also been invited to meet with engineers about the plans.

Site investigation works will commence in January of next year and they hope to lodge a planning application to An Bórd Pleanála before the middle of 2020.

Detail design and tender documentation will be complete by the end of next year, when they hope to commence construction, subject to there being no delays or objections.

CITY TRIBUNE

Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers in Galway during Storm Barra

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Arrangements have been made to provide emergency accommodation for rough sleepers ahead of Storm Barra hitting Galway in the morning.

Accommodation will be provided at locations including The Glenoaks in the Westside, the Fairgreen in the city centre and Osterley Lodge in Salthill (Contact 085 8009709 or 085 8009641).

The COPE Galway Day Centre will remain open all day Tuesday from 8.30am to closing.

Meanwhile, Galway City Council has warned that a number of roads may be closed in the morning ahead of high tide, including Salthill Prom.

Following ongoing meetings of the Inter-Agency Co-ordination group today and based on the latest information available, a number of precautionary measures have been put in place.

Road Closures:

  • Closure of Silverstrand Beach at 6pm Monday
  • Closure of Ballyloughane Beach at midnight (Local Traffic only)
  • Closure of Rosshill Road at 6am Tuesday
  • Closure of Salthill Promenade at midnight:
  • Blackrock Tower to Seapoint and onto Grattan Road. (Closure of Grattan Road may be required. Monitoring in place to decide.)
  • Potential closure of roads along the Claddagh, Docks and Spanish Arch from 5am Tuesday

A spokesperson said: “There may be further closures throughout the city as required and the situation will be closely monitored and regular updates given.  Motorists will experience delays as a result.”

The carparks at Toft Park and on the Promenade have been closed and all vehicle owners have been asked to move their vehicles from car parks and along the Prom.

Sand bags are now available at the following manned locations: the former Tourist Kiosk in Salthill (behind Seapoint); Claddagh Hall; Galway Fire Station; Spanish Arch; the Docks (beside the pedestrian crossing at St Nicholas Street).

“Anyone who avails of sandbags should retain them in their possession for use throughout the upcoming winter season. Please do not take any more sandbags than you need,” the Council spokesperson said.

“The main impacts will include strong winds, falling trees and potential flooding.  High tide in Galway Bay will be at 6.45am Tuesday.

“Some trees may be compromised due to saturated soils at the moment, and with more rain forecast with Storm Barra some disruption due to falling trees/branches is likely. Heavy rain, coupled with falling leaves may block drains and gullies, leading to surface flooding. Galway City Council staff have been carrying out drainage maintenance across the city in advance of the storm to minimise potential flooding risks.

“Storm Barra will produce significant swell, high waves and sizeable storm surges. This will lead to wave overtopping, some coastal flooding and damage, especially along western and southern coasts,” the Council said.

Business owners and homeowners are advised to check their own drains and secure any loose objects within their property in advance of the warning taking effect.

“Galway City Council advises remaining indoors during the period of the warning and, as always, to avoid coastal areas. Parks and other wooded areas should also be avoided, due to the danger of falling trees. If absolutely essential to travel, please exercise extreme caution out and about especially on coastal roads and exposed shores.

“City Council staff will be on standby for clean-up following the passing of Storm Barra and the associated warning once it has been deemed safe to do so.  Please note the associated clean-up which will commence on Wednesday morning may impact on traffic.”

Galway City Council Customer Services phone lines are available to deal with emergency calls on 091 536400. For the Galway County Council area, the phone number is 091 509069.

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CITY TRIBUNE

School reports better atmosphere and reduced stress due to pilot project

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Celebrating one year of the School Streets project in Scoil Iognáid were, back: Community Engagement Garda Claire Burke; Patrick Greene, Director of Services, Galway City Council Mayor of Galway City, Councillor Colette Connolly; Hildegarde Naughton, TD, Minister of State, Department of Transport; and City Council Community Warden, Barry Cummins. Front: Diarmuid Mac Giollarnaith, Matthew Mac Uidhir, Caoimhe Drea, Ellen Ní Olláin and Lola Mae Nic Cormaic from 6th class. Photos:Andrew Downes, Xposure.

Daily car use at Scoil Iognáid has reduced by 14% in the past year since Galway City Council introduced a School Streets pilot project to the area.

More children are walking (+11%), scooting (+3%) and cycling (+7%) on a daily basis, according to a report published by Galway City Council.

Staff reported that children were arriving to school more ready to learn, with an improved atmosphere and reduced stress at the school gate. Parents and the wider community reported a better walking and cycling environment, improved access and community spirit.

A ‘School Street’ is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times – creating a safer, calmer space for children, parents and residents to walk, scoot or cycle. The pilot project in Scoil Iognáid was formally launched in November, 2020, with hundreds of families joining to create the first city-centre School Streets project in Ireland.

As part of the pilot project, Palmyra Row, Palmyra Avenue and Raleigh Row were pedestrianised from November 30 during the school pick-up and drop-off times during the school term. Residents retain access to their homes during these times, as do cyclists or ‘blue badge’ holders, accessing the school.

The project is funded by the National Transport Authority and delivered with the support of the Green-Schools Travel programme, An Garda Siochána, and the wider school community.

Galway West TD and Minister of State in the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton TD described the City Council report as “incredibly encouraging”.

She said the findings would provide information on how to boost increased levels of children taking a healthier and greener mode of transport to and from school.

“Crucially, the report and findings published by Galway City Council acts as a step-by-step blueprint for local authorities nationwide to replicate these results in their own counties,” Deputy Naughton stated.

“Earlier this year I launched a new programme, Safe Routes to School, which is investing in safe walking, cycling and scooting infrastructure on the lead-up to and entrances of our schools. The programme aims to deliver and is delivering, results just like those we can see from this School Streets pilot.”

Director of Services at Galway City Council Patrick Greene said there was reason to celebrate as the School Streets pilot turned one.

“The National Transport Authority identifies the front of school as the place where children congregate in the greatest numbers and where they are most vulnerable to indiscriminate parking practices, hazardous crossing conditions and air quality issues from idling cars.

“The School Streets pilot at Scoil Iognáid has created a space where children as young as four and five are scooting and cycling with their older classmates, as they arrive into school. “Galway City Council is now looking to progress ‘Safe Routes to School’ and ‘School Zones’ at more schools in the city – these designs will create a safer front-of-school environment for children and if any opportunities arise to deliver School Streets or ‘traffic-free’ streets. Galway City Council welcomes the opportunity to explore this with the school community,” he added.

The full report from the public consultation on April/ May 2021, and further information on the School Streets project can be found at www.galwaycity.ie/schoolstreets.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Tommy confident that relic from 1914 shipwreck is in sight

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Tommy Holohan at the remains of the Nordlyset, a 1,600 ton steel barque carrying a cargo of deal which was wrecked off Mutton island in November 1914. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

BY LORNA SIGGINS news@ctribune.ie

When Claddagh native Tommy Holohan was growing up on Galway Bay, he remembered how neighbours used to have contests to swim out to the wreck of a ship off Mutton island.

Now he believes he may have located the anchor of the same ship, named Nordlyset, in the sands off Nimmo’s pier.

“We’re not sure, but the anchor chain is here and close to part of the keel, so there’s every reason to think the actual anchor is a couple of foot below, “Holohan says.

“If it can be located, and then raised, it should be exhibited as a key part of Galway’s maritime history,” he feels.

The Nordlyset, or Northern lights, was a three-masted 1,600-ton steel sailing barque which was built in Greenock, Scotland, in 1891.

It was carrying a cargo of timber deal from Rimouski, Canada, into Galway when it hit rocks off Mutton island in November 1914.

No members of the crew perished, but much of its cargo was either washed ashore or was salvaged, Holohan says.

“They got her off the rocks and towed her in, and the hull was sitting upright and we could see it for several years” he explains.

“The Claddagh men had contests to swim out to her,” he recalls.

“Then Hammond Lane Metal Company was sent to take what was of value from it and stripped it down,” Holohan says.

“It was a beautiful ship, and a ship that sailed the oceans. It was fitted with the most modern technology they had at the time.

“Galway had been setting its sights on becoming a major transatlantic port and, of course it was one of several ships to run aground in the Bay – but perhaps one of the better-remembered by people who are still alive,” Holohan says.

“All that was left after Hammond Lane finished was the keel, and we think the anchor has to be here. “I think if the proper buoys were used,  it might help to lift the keel and that would point to the anchor,” he believes.

The wreck was also close to South Park, known as the ‘Swamp;, which was the Galway dump until the late 1950s, he points out.

“When we were growing up on the Claddagh, we had no toys, so we would be back looking for toys in the dump, or food. When my mother was young, she and her sisters were sent down to the dump for cinders for the fire,” he says.

Holohan is a grandson of Nan Toole, who was known for her medicinal cures in the Claddagh. She delivered him as a home birth in 1951 and died a year later in 1952.

A keen athlete, Holohan holds the world record for the number of times an Irish person has run the New York marathon consecutively, and has also run marathons in Dublin, Boston, Edinburgh and the Mojave desert.

He is a founder member of the Anti-Austerity Alliance and stood for the alliance in the local elections in 2014, and in the 2016 general election. Apart from politics and running, he also maintains a keen interest in local history.

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