Thursday 22 February 2018

Up to 40 homes affected as final route of planned Galway bypass decided

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

The final route of the controversial Galway bypass can be revealed today.

City planners will tell up to 400 affected landowners and councillors next week that planning permission will be sought for an amended version of the so-called 'pink' route, which will include changes to junctions and road layouts and take in elements of the 'blue' route.

It is understood that up to 40 homes will be affected, and that land will also be sought from other property owners to facilitate construction of the 16km bypass, which is expected to cost up to €600m.

No source of funding has been identified, and a detailed design will be completed by early next year before planning permission is sought.

The Irish Independent has learned the road will travel from the N6/M6 around the city and will include a tunnel underneath Ballybrit Racecourse. This is sure to be a source of controversy amid claims it will close the track for the duration of the works.

Most of the road will be of dual carriageway standard, including a new bridge over the River Corrib north of the existing Quincentennial Bridge, but it is proposed to reduce the road width from Knocknacarra to cater for lower traffic volumes.

Affected landowners will be written to next Wednesday, with local councillors to be briefed the following day. It is understood that the amalgamated route will include a number of new junction layouts.

As many as 20,000 workers are understood to travel into the city every day which is resulting in gridlock at peak times, but the road has been a source of ongoing controversy with local anger about how the process has been handled.

The route corridor is 150m wide and runs for 16kms. When complete, the road will be between 25m and 35m wide.

Consultation will take place over the next two to three weeks with landowners, with between 300 and 400 affected.

Around 10pc of these landowners will own homes in the path of the motorway, while some gardens or other land may be required.

"Ten times as many people will get letters as will have properties affected. For some, the road will go up to the boundary of their property but for others it could be 100m away," one source said.

Landowners will have an opportunity to make submissions during the planning hearing and compulsory purchase orders will be issued early next year. The cost of land purchases is expected to be between €80m and €100m. After detailed designs are completed, planning permission will be sought. It is not expected to be finalised until early 2017.

The move comes after a previous bypass route was blocked by the European Court of Justice in 2013 due to the impact on the integrity of a special area of conservation (SAC) which included limestone pavement. Some €14m was spent on this proposal.

The local authorities will have to prove that the new, preferred route will not have a widespread environmental impact to secure planning permission. While the Government is expected to announce a capital investment plan in the coming weeks, it is not clear if funding will be made available. It may be built under a Public Private Partnership.

Irish Independent

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