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Traffic mayhem expected in Galway

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The Tuam Road and Headford Road have been identified as two of the worst bottlenecks in the country as Galway motorists have been issued with a fresh warning that they face the worst traffic chaos in years over the next few months.

AA Roadwatch have warned that a rise in new car sales is set to add to congestion on the city’s roads on a scale not seen since the economic collapse occurred in 2008.

The organisation, which provides regular traffic updates, has noted a significant increase in congestion in the cities of Dublin, Cork, and Galway this year.

“Traffic volumes are up across the road network and we are seeing that every day,” said AA Roadwatch spokesperson Arwen Foley. “We are expecting the months from now until Christmas to be the busiest in years.”

She said that improvements to the economy were likely to lead to increased congestion on the roads, while car ownership had doubled over the past 25 years.

Ms Foley said that the Tuam Road and Headford Road were two of the heaviest routes for traffic across the entire country this year, as they are regularly mentioned on morning radio bulletins.

However, a Galway City Council spokesman said a number of measures taken by the local authority would ensure that there would be no return to the traffic jams of the “boom” years.

The spokesman pointed out that the new Urban Traffic Management Centre (UTMC) allowed traffic levels to be altered on demand, while the conversion of a number of roundabouts into signalised junctions also facilitated the flow of vehicles across the city.

He pointed out that the decision to postpone the Lough Atalia bridge enhancement scheme until mid-January would also help to avoid increased congestion in the run-up to the Christmas period.

The successful pre-Christmas ‘park and ride’ scheme is also set to keep cars off the city roads during the peak shopping season.

“The Headford Road is an issue and will continue to be an issue while we have a roundabout on it,” said the spokesman. “We have seen that the replacement of roundabouts by signalised junctions has greatly improved the flow of traffic across the city.”

He said that the local authority would engage consultants to plan the transformation of the Kirwan Roundabout for the second time in two years early in 2015.

The spokesman said the success of the UTMC, which allows staff to change traffic signals in response to tail-backs, was evident during a busy festival season in July.

He also suggested that commuters needed to consider the options of using public transport, cycling, or walking to work or places of education if Galway is to tackle its traffic congestion problems.

“It is great that there is an indication the economy is beginning to recover,” said the spokesman. “But we still have a limited road network in and around the city. We have a capacity issue. With respect to AA Roadwatch, their focus is on motorists on our roads.

“We need to get away from the model of a single commuter in a single car. We understand where AA Roadwatch are coming from, but there are the needs of cyclists, pedestrians, and public transport users to consider as well. The development of the new signalised junctions has improved commuting times for these commuters.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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

Planners approve homes for ‘cuckoo fund’ investor

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The green light has been given for the construction of 345 apartments at the Crown Square site in Mervue – the majority of which will be put on the rental market and operated by a ‘cuckoo fund’ for a minimum of fifteen years.

Crown Square Developments, which is owned by developer Padraic Rhatigan, has secured permission from An Bord Pleanála for the ‘Build to Rent’ development, with four blocks ranging ranging from four to nine storeys in height.

There will also be a neighbourhood facility with a gym, a primary care medical centre with pharmacy, a ‘working from home’ lounge, six shops, a games room and a creche.

There will be 240 two-bed apartments, 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds, all of which will be specifically for the rental market and not available to purchase.

A breakdown of the apartments shows there will be 240 two-beds; 86 one-beds and 19 three-beds.

To meet social housing requirements, the developer plans to transfer 35 of the apartments (20 two-bed, 10 one-bed and 5 three-bed) to Galway City Council.

A total of 138 car-parking spaces have been allocated on the lower basement levels of Crown Square for residents, along with shared access to another 109 spaces and another 13 for use by a ‘car club’. There will be 796 secure bicycle parking spaces to serve the apartments.

The Board has ordered that the apartments can only be used as long-term rentals, and none can be used for short-term lettings.

Under ‘Build to Rent’ guidelines, the development must be owned and operated by an institutional entity for a minimum period of 15 years and “where no individual residential units shall be sold separately for that period”. The 15-year period starts from the date of occupation of the first residential unit.

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

Councillors divided over vote on Salthill Prom cycleway

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to install a temporary two-way cycle lane along Salthill Promenade hangs in the balance, with city councillors split ahead of a vote next week.

On Monday night, the 18 city councillors will discuss Mayor Colette Connolly’s motion that the lane be installed on the coastal side of the road from Blackrock to a point opposite Galway Business School.

A poll of the councillors carried out by the Galway City Tribune yesterday found nine in favour of the proposal, with one indicating they will abstain. A simple majority is required and if there is a 9-9 split, the Mayor holds a ‘casting’ vote, effectively a second vote.

There has been a flurry of lobbying by cycling campaigners urging councillors to vote in favour, as well as some complaints from residents worried it will again impinge on their parking as visitors to Salthill seek somewhere to park up while they swim or walk along the most utilised resource the city has.

During lockdown, Gardaí removed parking on the Prom to deter people from gathering in a public space. This resulted in motorists blocking driveways and entering private estates, leading one estate off Threadneedle Road to hire a private clamping company.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) believes there are a maximum of 250 spaces that would be lost to the project on one side of the road as currently proposed, including seven disabled spaces, which could be reassigned close by.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the issue and to see how each councillor intends to vote, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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