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OPW Minister to meet Council engineers on 'flawed' motorway design

The Minister of State at the Office of Public Works is to meet with Galway County Council engineers to discuss the ‘flawed’ design of the M18 motorway.

As reported by the Connacht Tribune last week, a section of the Gort-Tuam motorway could have to be closed to allow for a new larger culvert to be installed – otherwise the South Galway-Gort Lowlands Flood Relief Scheme could be stalled.

The matter came up for discussion in the Dáil last Thursday during a debate on ‘flood risk management’, when it was confirmed that Galway County Council would be consulted on the issue.

Galway East TD Ciaran Cannon (FG) said the South Galway-Gort Lowlands Flood Relief Scheme was encountering difficulties and these needed to be addressed.

In response, Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, Patrick O’Donovan, said that he will be travelling to Galway shortly to meeting the County Council with regard to the matters raised.

Deputy Cannon told the Dáil that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) had constructed a motorway right through the heart of the region and did not build a sufficient number of culverts (tunnels carrying a stream or open drain under a road or railway) during its construction.

“That now has the potential to derail the whole process. The costs associated with remedying this problem with the motorway will become part of the issue for the overall cost-benefit analysis.

“I therefore encourage the Minister of State and his officials to engage directly with TII to have this issue resolved and to ensure TII accepts full responsibility for the lack of capacity in these culverts and covers the cost of making them sufficiently large so as not to cause flooding in the region.

“I know the Minister of State is more than aware of, and has been exceptionally supportive of, the South Galway-Gort lowlands flood relief scheme,” added Deputy Cannon.

Minister O’Donovan replied that he intends to meet with Galway County Council shortly with regards to the matter raised.

“I have been there a number of times already in respect of other schemes and I must say the County Council is to the fore in delivering an awful lot to the schemes,” he added.

Deputy Cannon said that he did not want a return to the situation during the mid-1990s when boats were used to rescue dwellers, animals and possessions in the Gort area as torrential rain left thousands of acres of land under water for several months.

There were similar incidents in 2009 and 2015 when parts of the South Galway area were left stranded because of the extreme flooding.

“It’s now more than apparent that the M18 motorway design is flawed. There isn’t sufficient capacity in culverts under the road, and this is impeding the flow of flood waters at times of high rainfall. This issue was flagged with TII long before the motorway was built but they chose to ignore the concerns of locals. It’s absolutely imperative that TII now revisits this issue and solves it once and for all.

“I’m pleased that Minister O’Donovan is now planning to visit Galway shortly to sit down with our Council engineers and TII to finally resolve this matter. We cannot have the significant costs of this redesign lumbered onto the Gort Lowlands Flood Relief scheme. If that happens the whole cost benefit aspect of the project becomes very risky, and may not pass scrutiny by the Department of Public Expenditure. TII have caused this problem and they need to solve it,” said Deputy Cannon.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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