Roads and routes – and how we’ll get around a decade from now
The decisions, often the most anticipated, follow one another like buses. You wait interminably, wondering if one of them will ever arrive, and then, out of the ether, several will come. It’s a fitting analogy this week because for some time the city and county of Galway have been waiting for decisions that have a lot to do, if not so much with buses, at least with the ways in which we are going to get around. for the rest of this century.
The issue of the Galway City Ring Road or the road formerly known as the Galway City Bypass, and several other iterations over the past third of a century or more, has long been a bone of contention among those who travel to and from the city. For those who spend ten hours a week in their cars on the outskirts of town, it has been a godsend, but they wonder if they will ever appreciate it.
But for others, there are considerations that touch the heart. This latest version took on more emotional considerations as it involves the demolition and / or acquisition of many family homes, placing these owners in an unenviable position of not knowing where they stand, even if they wish to sell and move. , although many do not want to see a life’s labor of love, care and safety fall prey to the bulldozer’s yellow teeth.
But this sag still has a long way to go. There is no season finale.
The second route to receive the green light this week is the Athlone Cycle Route to Galway – a project that promises to open up the wonderful heart of the region to walkers, cyclists, runners and more through the provision of a secure route provided with mains services.
Like the Galway City Ring Road, there has been a lot of campaigning for some routes to be taken and others to be avoided, but in the end it was Route Five that was chosen.
This will go from Athlone, via Cornafulla, near Shannonbridge with a link to Ballinasloe and then to Clonfert, Eyrecourt, Portumna, Woodford, Gort, Coole Park, Kinvara, Clarinbridge, Oranmore, and up to Galway through superb peat bogs, picturesque landscapes and views of the River Shannon, the Grand Canal to the Atlantic Sea, bringing together heritage, history, culture and communities.
It is truly a magical route, and has been well received by those who campaigned for it, as it will rejuvenate small towns and villages, open up new opportunities to provide services to the hundreds of thousands of people who will use it. . One need only look at the Green Lane in Mayo to see the boost it has given to small towns and villages like Newport and Mulranny; and look at Waterford and Kerry where they too enjoy the benefits of a man-made tourist attraction that runs through the region’s most beautiful spots.
Cities like Athenry and Loughrea are unfortunately not on route five, but already local politicians are preparing a candidacy, not to defeat the selection, but to campaign positively for adjacent roads to connect their towns to the cycle path, so that those who use it have the opportunity to visit Athenry and Loughrea. For my part, I would not want to miss seeing the magnificent medieval and natural panoramas that these towns enjoy, if I were to be a user of the new cycle path.
So roads and roads, solutions and problems. It is not yet clear where all of this will end. There is now an eight-week standoff over the GCRR’s decision that will allow the parties to prepare green light appeals from An Bord Pleanala. There are still many hurdles to overcome for this plan, and during this time those behind will continue to make progress in designing and acquiring a contract that won’t change much on a billion euros.
Containment has shown us how good life can be without the adverse health effects and reduced lifespan of traffic jams. Sitting in your car ten hours a week on the outskirts of town is a waste of time, especially in the heavy gasoline consumers who dominate the auto market. Maybe when this road is finally built, the vehicles on it will be powered from a cleaner source and not cause so much damage; maybe the remote working aspect will bring life to our small towns and villages, and cities will become places we visit out of absolute necessity.
We have learned a lot from the past two years. We’ll learn a lot more from the next ten.