The new Gort-to-Tuam motorway is on schedule to be completed, as planned, in early 2018 and the 57-kilometre project will be opened at the one time.
A spokesman for the contractors told the Connacht Tribune that they were on schedule for the completion of the motorway around this time in two years time.
However, the contractors have ruled out any possibility of the Tuam bypass being opened ahead of schedule – motorists had been hoping that this part of the scheme would have been fast-tracked.
The €550-million motorway is steadily progressing despite local opposition to a road closure at Cartymore on the main Monivea to Galway road to facilitate the construction of a bridge.
Locals and business interests lost their battle to prevent the road closure which has now taken effect and will remain in place until April 11. Lengthy diversions are in place.
Declan Carney of Sisk, who are one of the three main contractors involved in the project along with Lagan and Roadbridge, said that the objections at Cartymore had not held up the project and that works overall were progressing as planned.
There was huge local opposition to the road closure from local residents and businesses – Galway County Council received about 500 submissions opposing the temporary move.
As well as the submissions, up to 50 residents and business owners last month protested at Cartymore Cross, Cashla prior to the decision being made. There was a significant Garda presence at the protest.
Meanwhile, Mr Carney added: “Our contract with the road authority is straightforward in terms of completion. The full scheme including the Tuam bypass opens at the same time. There is no phased opening and the works throughout the project are scheduled out accordingly”.
It is a huge infrastructural undertaking and it is not surprising that there has been some criticism of the construction process, particularly from land owners in South Galway.
Farmers in the area say that the construction of the motorway has displaced water and has been a contributing factor in the severe flooding that occurred in the area over the winter. The flood waters still remain very high for the time of year.
But there had been hopes that the Tuam bypass – a project that was first mooted way back in 2006 – might have been prioritised, as there are daily tailbacks on either side of the town, but this will not be the case.
Teenager caught with €20,000 worth of cannabis
A teenager was stopped and searched by Gardaí in Eyre Square on Monday evening, and found in possession of an estimated €20,000 worth of cannabis.
Members of the Galway Divisional Drugs Unit stopped the man, aged in his late teens, at around 6pm and searched him under the Misuse of Drugs Act. During the search the man was found in possession of a €20,000 of suspected cannabis herb. The drugs seized will be sent for forensic analysis.
He was arrested and detained at Garda Headquarters in Renmore and was released from custody this morning. A file is now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Level 5 ‘lockdown’ restrictions from midnight Wednesday
‘Crass stupidity’ to allow Leisureland close
The looming threat of closure for Leisureland after Christmas amounts to “crass stupidity” and requires an urgent commitment for funding from Government, according to a local TD.
Deputy Catherine Connolly told the Galway City Tribune she had raised the issue in the Dáil with the Minister of State for Local Government and he had expressed an openness to meeting with a delegation from City Hall in relation to the City Council-owned facility’s dire financial situation.
“It’s simply not acceptable that a public swimming pool would close when we have the Minister for Finance announcing a budget of €18 billion this week – that’s Monopoly money.
“We have €18 billion to dispense and the challenge is to do that in a way that ensures a basic level of services below which we cannot go, and that requires funding the local authority. The local authority is fundamental in any civilised society, as are the services it provides,” said the Independent Deputy.
Raising the issue in Leinster House, Deputy Connolly said that Leisureland was an excellent public facility that had been open since 1973 and had broke even for the last number of years, but had run into major funding shortfalls as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
“It is a fantastic swimming pool. I must declare a conflict of interest as I use it every weekend, It helps to keep me semi-sane and semi-fit.
“No public swimming pool makes money and few of them break even. This pool needed money due to Covid-19 and the difficulties experienced by every public swimming pool in the country. The management in the City Council said it was not in a position to give it money and that the swimming pool would have to close,” said Deputy Connolly, adding that the decision had been made and staff were informed.
Due to public pressure and resistance from local councillors, the decision was reversed and €207,000 in funding had been provided by the Council Executive.
“However, it pointed out that the money was coming out of next year’s budget, so it could not continue, and it would not be in a position to fund it.
“I do not expect miracles, but I expect commitment from the Minister and the Government that, regardless of what happens, we are not going to close public swimming pools or public libraries. They are essential services,” said Deputy Connolly.
She said €2.5 million in funding had been made available for “swimming pools with public access” in the private sector as part of the Government’s July Stimulus package, but nothing for publicly-owned facilities.
“It is very ironic if we are going to keep private swimming pools open once they have some limited access to the public, while we close down the public swimming pools,” she added.
Responding, Minister Peter Burke said his Department was keeping spending and cash flow at local authorities under constant review and would continue to work with Galway City Council to address issues.
“My Department is engaging with representatives of the local government sector and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the financial challenges facing local authorities as a direct consequence of the pandemic, in terms of additional costs incurred as part of the local government response and decline in local authority income streams.
“I will do my very best with regard to the Deputy’s ask. I would be willing to meet a delegation from the City Council in connection with this issue. However, there are going to be significant asks emanating from this crisis. We are doing our very best to make what we have go as far as it can. It presents a major challenge,” said Minister Burke.