Jobs have already been lost to Galway because of the city’s growing traffic congestion, the Dáil was told last week.
Independent TD Noel Grealish told Taoiseach Enda Kenny: “I know of a number of companies that looked at Galway in recent months and they decided not to locate there due to the traffic problems.”
Meanwhile, a park and ride solution to the growing traffic jams affecting thousands off workers in Parkmore, on the outskirts of Galway City, is to be considered by the National Transport Authority.
The Taoiseach promised Deputy Grealish that he would pass on his ‘novel suggestion’ to the NTA.
Raising the issue of Galway’s traffic woes during Leaders Questions, the Galway West TD warned that it would be at least another ten years before any bypass or ring road would eventually be opened in the city and asked what the government intended to do about Galway’s traffic in the meantime.
“Is the city expected to come to a standstill for the next ten years, with everyone sitting in his or her car while Galway becomes one giant car park?,” he asked.
He said there were reports on radio every morning about the traffic congestion in Claregalway and Parkmore.
“The only solution to the problem in Claregalway is an inner relief road as the new M17-M18 will not solve the traffic problems in the village, given that a new secondary school has now opened with more than 1,000 students enrolled.
“The situation in Parkmore is even more serious, with approximately 10,000 people travelling daily to and from work on a single road. Employers are concerned about the continuing effects of traffic congestion on productivity, future expansion plans and job security.”
The Independent TD asked the Taoiseach what was ‘Plan B’ for Galway and urged that a task force be put in place to find a solution.
“We are losing industry in Galway right now because of the city's traffic problems. It is a fact that we are losing employment and investment.”
Deputy Grealish added that he had put a proposal to Galway City and County Councils involving the use of Galway Airport for a park and ride facility to serve Parkmore .
“I have met with all the top executives in Parkmore. These are multinational companies — people who are concerned about the traffic problems. They said they would even look at co-funding to put a park and ride facility in place.”
In reply, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that strong growth and an increase in employment in recent years had exacerbated Galway’s traffic problems.
He said that a transport strategy prepared by the NRA along with Galway City and County Councils, included, as well as an outer city bypass, improved pedestrian and cycling facilities and an enhanced bus network, along with park and ride facilities at suitable locations.
In relation to Parkmore, work had been progressed there to develop both a short term and long-term solution. Galway City Council had appointed a design team to examine options for possible short-term additions to address access to the business park and exits from it, in addition to identifying a longer term solution.
“Proposals will be identified and assessed by the end of February and, depending on the funding implications, I understand it may be possible to commence some of the smaller measures during 2017,” said Mr Kenny, adding that a solution may include a reconfiguration of local junctions as well as the provision of further park and ride arrangements.
“The Deputy has made a novel suggestion in respect of park and ride facilities and I will have it brought to the attention of the National Transport Authority,” he added.
Mr Kenny said that the design details for the longer term would be available later this year and, in respect of funding, there would be a major capital review to be carried by June 2017. “This can feed into that.”