An Bord Pleanála has approved the planning application of the N6 Galway City Ring Road.
Estimated to cost €600 million, the proposed road aims to tackle congestion that has long plagued the city.
With propositions to alleviate traffic dating back to as early as 1999, the formal application for the current ring road plan (N6 GCRR) was submitted by Galway County Council over three years ago and has encountered a series of delays and deliberations.
Following an extensive oral hearing last year, An Bord Pleanála has now revised the design around the Parkmore business park and discarded proposed new permanent stables at Galway Racecourse.
The planning body said that the road will have “significant permanent positive impacts” for travellers in relation to their journey times.
They insisted that development must entirely follow plans submitted, which will see the construction of both dual and single carriageways stretching over 18 kilometres.
The dual-lane will begin with a new interchange from the end of the M6 and continue for 12 kilometres until the existing N59 where it will taper into a single lane until its termination point west of Bearna.
The road will also involve a section of a tunnel towards the Galway Racecourse.
Continuing westwards to the Corrib, a second section of tunnel will be constructed as well as a new crossing over the river.
Current plans will see the road reach NUI Galway on a viaduct, before veering towards the Bushypark area.
As part of An Bord Pleanála’s revisions, special infrastructure will be in place for wildlife such as barn owls, otters and lesser horseshoe bats alongside parts of the route.
Stipulations have also been set down for the types of trees that can be planted by the roads.
Galway City Council has estimated that the road will take three years to construct.
In a statement, the Council and its partner Transport Infrastructure Ireland welcomed An Bord Pleanála’s decision.
“The N6 GCRR will transform Galway City Centre from a location typically characterised by heavy congestion and significant traffic volumes to a destination of choice for residents, workers and visitors alike — with increased walking and cycling infrastructure, and a more reliable, frequent and attractive public transport offer,” Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Mr Brendan McGrath, said.
“The decision by An Bord Pleanála will support a number of key policy areas for Galway City, and the wider western region, relating to sustainable travel; urban realm; active lifestyles; climate action; and compact employment-led growth.”
Although the road is embraced by many, opponents of the project have voiced their concerns over the road’s output of carbon emissions.
In its decision document, An Bord Pleanála conceded that the project is “likely to result in a significant negative impact on carbon emissions and climate that will not be fully mitigated”.
The decision document also found that the road will have “negative direct and indirect impacts” to archaeological and built heritage sites found near the desired route, with one protected structure set to be completely demolished.
Since its formal application in 2018, around 500 landowners along the desired route have received Compulsory Acquisition Notices.