Deputy Connolly said the level of traffic congestion on Galway’s roads is simply not sustainable on any level. It is causing great frustration among motorists on a daily basis, it is interfering with our competitiveness and severely impacting on our ability to deliver on our commitments under climate change legislation.
Indeed it has now been confirmed by the government that not only will we fail to meet our 2020 commitments but also our 2030 commitments under the Paris Agreement.
This failure will inevitably result not only in substantial financial penalties but will also have a detrimental impact on our environment. And yet, once again, the City Council is pursuing a new road with more traffic as the only solution in town. This road has been costed at a minimum of €30 million per kilometre for a 16.5km road, amounting to almost half a billion and that is just the beginning. In addition, 40 houses will be demolished and over 2/3 or the City Council’s residential zoned land will be frozen intensifying Galway’s housing crisis.
Deputy Connolly said this is utter madness and there has to be a change of policy as a matter of urgency.
Deputy Connolly has long been an advocate of light rail as part of the solution to Galway’s traffic congestion and was instrumental in arranging two presentations to the City Council by the GLUAS committee. This committee was chaired by former Independent Councillor Brendan Holland and it did Trojan work. Indeed, following those presentations, the elected members endorsed public transport and more particularly light-rail as an integral part of the solution to Galway’s traffic woes. Unfortunately successive city managers and management teams in Galway City Council have dismissed light-rail out of hand without any proper studies or investigations.
In this context Deputy Connolly welcomes the recent statement by Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs with the Automobile Association (AA), calling on all stakeholders to urgently re-examine the case for light-rail in Galway city.
Deputy Connolly said that stale responses from the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and from the City Council that there is insufficient demand to justify light-rail are no longer acceptable given the challenges that we face with climate change.
It is not possible to celebrate and promote Galway as the European Capital of Culture without sustainable transport and the building of communities. It is essential that we have long-term, sustainable planning given the expected growth of our city and the problems posed by waiting lists even in newly constructed schools and the ongoing congestion at Parkmore due to lack of forward planning.
Deputy Connolly says the provision of light-rail in the city is the clear and unambiguous solution and both community and business groups must come together to ensure the provision of light-rail in the city.