An Bord Pleanála approves Galway City Ring Road project

An Bord Pleanála has approved the long-awaited Galway City Ring Road project.

N6 Galway City Ring Road – Statement

Galway County Council, Galway City Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland all welcome An Bord Pleanála’s decision to approve the N6 Galway City Ring Road.

This is welcome news for the thousands of commuters who travel to Galway on a daily basis for employment, education, medical or other services and who find themselves at a standstill for long periods in traffic congestion.

It is welcome news too for those using public transport who will see their journey times fall and for those who will be attracted to public transport because it can operate more efficiently and reliably.

The Ring Road will solve the traffic problems in Parkmore and Ballybrit and open up greater employment opportunities for Conamara, the rest of County Galway and the wider region.

It is welcome news too for those who want to live in an improved urban environment where walking is a more attractive option and cycling much safer.

While the road brings many benefits and is critical to the future development of the City and region, we are conscious of the significant impact the road will have on many property owners but especially those residential properties affected by it.

Unfortunately, given the significant constraints for developing new transport infrastructure in the urban environment and the linear nature of the City, avoidance of properties was not possible. The council will continue to engage as constructively as possible with each and every land and property owner along the route.

The delivery of the Galway City Ring Road will enable Galway to become the Gateway for the entire Western Region and position it to compete with the likes of Limerick, Cork and Waterford and become a strong and effective counterbalance to Dublin and the East.

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The Ring Road (GCRR) is part of the overall Galway Transportation Strategy (GTS) for Galway City, which is based on achieving sustainable and integrated land-use and transport solutions. The GCRR, as part of the strategy, will alleviate traffic congestion and support more sustainable travel.

It will also facilitate the population growth in a compact and sustainable way as required by the National Planning Framework and free up road space so that public transport can run more efficiently and become a more attractive transport option. 

By delivering a transport solution that supports compact and sustainable growth the GCRR will enable employment and residential growth in the city on brownfield and infill locations. Thus, population growth can be compact requiring less travel in absolute terms. In this way the GCRR aligns with sustainable transport and climate change mitigation strategies.

The GCRR will run from the existing R336 Coast Road west of Bearna to tie-in with the existing N6 at Coolagh Junction. From Bearna to the Ballymoneen Rd Junction the GCRR will be a single carriageway road and will then continue as a dual carriageway to the Coolagh Junction. The total area within the footprint of the proposed development boundary is 280 hectares.

The overall benefits that the GCRR can facilitate include:

  • Providing a strategic route eliminating the need to go through the city and providing connections to essential city links to better distribute traffic
  • Freeing the existing city centre zone from congestion and providing a better quality of life for the city’s inhabitants
  • Reallocating road space to public transport and improving journey time reliability
  • Encouraging walking and cycling as safe transport modes and ultimately providing a much safer environment in which to live
  • Improving connectivity of the West Region to the rest of the country and the international markets of the EU
  • Improving accessibility to the areas west of Galway City, including Gaeltacht areas
  • Improving accessibility to more isolated communities thus reducing economic and social disadvantages, and
  • Improving access to employment and services

The GCRR results in the unfortunate but unavoidable impacts on some local communities and people living in the vicinity of the development. From the outset of the design of the N6 GCRR, every effort was made to avoid property demolitions, both residential and commercial, where possible. Avoidance of all properties was unfortunately not possible given the significant constraints for developing new transport infrastructure in Galway including the linear development of the city and the need for proximity between the proposed road development and the urban environment for the delivery of the optimal solution for a new ring road.

Numerous alternative routes to the GCRR had been considered. However, the alternatives were more damaging to the receiving environment in terms of property demolitions and other potential environmental impacts in comparison to the GCRR.

The overall investment value of the N6 GCRR is currently estimated at €600 million which includes both property and construction costs. Subject to legal challenges, and available funding, the project can now advance to the next stages which include land and property purchase, detailed design, enabling works, the procurement of a contractor and the main construction phase. Whilst at this stage it is difficult to determine indicative timelines due to possible legal challenges, it is estimated that the final detailed design and tendering will take approximately 18 – 24 months. Some of this work can be progressed immediately and will run in parallel with any legal challenge. Once final approval for the scheme is received and a contractor is appointed, the main construction contract is expected to take 36 months.

The full delivery of the GTS, of which the N6 GCRR is a core component, will allow the city’s population and employment to grow by up to 50%, as identified in The National Planning Framework, in a compact manner, supporting travel by sustainable modes and maintaining a functioning transport network.

Some of the positive impacts of the GCRR [and GTS] in a city with a projected population increase of 50% include:

  • A reduction of circa 7,300 car trips in the city centre per day
  • Up to 38% decrease in HGV traffic in the city centre during peak times
  • An approximate increase of 2,000 public transport trips per day
  • An increase of over 2,700 cycle trips per day
  • Approximately 2,600 more walking trips per day
  • Significant reductions in average journey times in peak period
  • East-West Journey times on the N6 will be 44% faster
  • 43% less delay across city network thereby improving access to key services
  • Improved air quality with 16% reduction in NOx, PM10 and PM2.5 in city centre

The GTS, of which the N6GCRR is a critical component, addresses the transport problems in Galway City, will lead to a significant reduction in the delays being experienced, and will enable sustainable and consolidated development in the city and county.