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CITY TRIBUNE

One third of submissions on new Cross-City Bus Link were negative

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The proposed new urban traffic plan – aimed at facilitating two major bus links across the city – could end up putting traffic around in circles and going nowhere, a former mayor claimed this week.

Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) told a City Council meeting that he had concerns over major changes proposed for vehicular traffic in the city – without the proposed N6 Galway City Ring Road being in place.

BY FRANCIS FARRAGHER AND DENISE McNAMARA

“If we have no Ring Road, what will take the traffic? We are looking at major changes in traffic-flow in places like the Salmon Weir Bridge and College Road with one-way systems.

“Even to access City Hall or going to the Sportsground for the rugby matches will be impacted upon. We’ll just end up sending the traffic around in circles, going nowhere.

“I am not convinced that these proposals [the Cross City Link and the Dublin Road Bus Corridor] will work, without the Ring Road,” said Cllr Lyons.

According to Cllr Owen Hanley (Social Democrats), the City Council was not moving quickly enough to bring about a modal switch in terms of transport usage across the city.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) said that there were real concerns among communities that the Council’s transport strategy was not progressing at a sufficient pace to indicate real change was taking place.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind), said that as regards the Dublin Road Bus Corridor, they were only at stage 2 of what was a 7-stage project.

Senior City Council Engineer, Uinsinn Finn, said that each of the projects put forward stood on its own merits but that all of them fitted into the overall Galway Transportation Strategy.

He also said that there had been agreement between the Saolta Hospital Group and the NTA (National Transport Authority) on the proposed bus route through the grounds of the hospital grounds (UHG).

Replying to queries about the Dublin Road Bus Corridor and the location of the new graveyard on a green area (just before the Connacht Hotel as one leaves the city), he said that he envisaged no problems with this.

“There is good public transport available while the site [new cemetery] is also in close proximity to the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

Meanwhile, almost one third of people who made submissions to the Council on the proposed Cross-City Link bus route were negative towards the project in the first stage of consultation.

In an update to councillors on the public transport and cycling priority corridor from NUIG to the Sportsground, 14 per cent were very negative while 15 per cent were classed as negative.

The largest percentage of submissions were neutral at 34 per cent, while 11 per cent were categorised as mixed.

Just eight per cent were ‘very positive’, and 18 per cent said to be ‘positive’.

A total of 93 submissions were made via the virtual room or email submission to the City Council. A total of 36 stakeholders out of 130 contacted – such as taxi companies, car park operators and businesses directly impacted – took part in a virtual briefing. A further 75 attended a Galway Chamber of Commerce event.

There are two more landowners yet to be contacted, with 21 landowners having had some form of engagement.

The main theme of the queries or submissions were concerns over loss of parking, access for areas such as College Road, Woodquay and Corrib Terrace and the impact of displaced traffic as well as support for greater priority for buses and cyclists.

The east-west priority corridor will see non-essential private traffic restricted or removed in the core part of the city centre in order to encourage more people out of their cars due to certainty of frequency and journey time reliability of public transport.

The next stage involves the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment and a Natura Impact Statement, which begins this month and will likely take six months.

Once these reports are concluded and the planning route confirmed the application for consent will then be submitted to An Bord Pleanála in parallel with the Compulsory Purchase application in the final quarter of 2021.

The ‘emerging preferred scheme’ involves two bus lanes over the Salmon Weir Bridge, Eglinton Street, Williamsgate Street. Eyre Square east and north and Forster Street will be restricted to public transport, cycling and taxis at peak times, while College Road will be limited to public transport, taxi and local access only, with no through-traffic – except for buses – permitted to the western end of Forster Street.

Forster Street, Eyre Square East, Prospect Hill and Bóthar Uí hEithir will become two-way traffic routes.

It is estimated that the project could be completed by 2026.

Councillor Mike Cubbard questioned why there were two landowners still to be questioned.

“There’s 29 per cent negative and very negative. Is there a common theme there to work on? It’s very hard to bring people with you when a third are against it,” he said.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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.

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