Speculation continues to grow that the long-awaited Tuam bypass could be open ahead of schedule – possibly at the end of the summer.
The Tuam bypass is being constructed along with the M17/M18 motorway and was due to be open in November but now there is a belief that this section may be brought into use much earlier.
According to Cllr Shaun Cunniffe from Tuam, the bypass could be open as early as August. He said that he had been in discussion with engineers who are attached to the overall €550 million project.
And there was added good news in that Galway County Council intents to carry out a major resurfacing programme along the stretch of the N17 through the town of Tuam once the motorway is completed.
Cllr Cunniffe said that the possible early opening of the Tuam bypass would be a welcome move as it would bring an end to the horrendous traffic congestion that occurs each morning and evening.
Much of the traffic delays is down to the fact that there are three sets of traffic lights within a half mile stretch from the Weir Road junction to the junction at Ballygaddy Road.
Galway County Council have made efforts to synchronise the lights to ease the traffic flow but there is still a problem with congestion during the peak periods.
“Those working with the contractors Direct Route have informed me that there is now a distinct possibility that the Tuam bypass will be open earlier than expected. This is very good news for motorists travelling from North Galway into the city,” Cllr Cunniffe added.
However, the business community in Tuam remain apprehensive about the effects that the bypass will have on their trade. They fear that the loss of passing traffic could have serious consequences – and particularly for filling stations along the N17.
It is estimated that the bypass could take some 10,000 cars away from Tuam town when it opens and it is likely to have an impact on businesses along the existing N17.
Direct Route have always insisted that the motorway and Tuam bypass will open at the same time – probably in November with an official opening to take place in the following February.
Meanwhile, Minister Sean Canney has announced that he has received confirmation that road works to improve the surface of the existing N17 through Tuam will be carried out when the new motorway opens.
Minister Canney said that he had made strong representations regarding the re-surfacing of the existing N17 from the Weir Road junction to the Town and Country Garage on the Milltown Road.
“The condition of the road through Tuam is very poor and in great need of works to improve the surface as a matter of urgency. “I am happy to report that the Council intends to carry out works on this section of the road when the motorway opens,” he said.