Galway Ring Road as much about city growth as traffic


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Galway Ring Road as much about city growth as traffic Galway Ring Road as much about city growth as traffic

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

One of the mistakes made by backers of the Galway City Ring Road was to pretend that it was being built as a solution to alleviate traffic congestion. Of course it’s not. Or certainly that’s not the sole purpose of it.

What the new road is partly about – and it’s only very recently that ring road supporters have publicly conceded this – is to open up more land so that Galway City can grow.

As recently as January, Galway City and County Councils said the Galway Transport Strategy (GTS) was a “key enabler to sustainable, employment-led growth”.

The ring road is a “vital component” of the GTS, ergo it is necessary to meet population-growth targets of 80,000. Where else are people going to live, if not in homes built on land opened up by this planned new road?

Now, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, is almost irrelevant until it’s properly acknowledged that that’s one aim of the road.

All this talk of using the road to divert cars out of the city centre, to free up space for buses and bikes, is not backed up by the research.

The transport element of the ring road is almost the shadow-boxing or proxy war. The real debate should be about Galway’s future.

Are we content to remain a ‘big town’ of 80,000 or so people? Or do we want to double in size, as set out in the National Development Plan and National Planning Framework and become a city of 160,000?

And if we want to grow, then it has to be up (high-rise apartment living) or out. The latter option involves building the ring road and opening up more tracts of land for development, as well as pushing on with Ardaun, the new major suburb planned for the east side. Arguably, proper wastewater and sewage treatment infrastructure to facilitate growth is as important as a new road.

But there needs to be honestly that the ring road isn’t just about transport and traffic. And when we can admit that, then we can have a more frank and better-informed debate about its merits, and Galway’s future.

This is a shortened preview version of this column. For more Bradley Bytes, see the February 24 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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