A planned walking and cycling bridge over the River Corrib in Galway City was allocated €11 million as part of a package of funding for the city announced yesterday.
The bridge will form part of the 76km Connemara Greenway, which is partly open but being built in sections. For local and cross-city travel it also will help link National University of Ireland Galway and suburbs around it to the city centre.
The route will use the limestone abutments of the Corrib Viaduct Bridge, which was part of the Clifden Railway which operated from 1895 to 1935. The old steel section of the bridge structure was removed after the railway closed.
The Government funding for the bridge is part of €82.8 million in funding packaged as ‘Revitalising the West’, which is part of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).
Kevin Jennings, chairperson of the Galway Cycling Campaign said: “The railway bridge and the key linkage along Dyke Road is the most exciting aspect of this funding. The current river crossings are either inconvenient, unattractive or unsafe for people on bikes.”
“The new bridge will open a possible path between our two third level institutions which will also open a possible connection between the two main hospital campuses. It will link with the greenways. We expect it will be well planned and that female students and nurses will feel safe crossing it at night,” he said.
€8.64 million is being spent on a number of public spaces as planned in the Galway City Public Realm Strategy 2019. These include at Woodquay, Cathedral plaza, and Fishmarket Square near Spanish Arch.
Jennings said “The development at Woodquay is a wonderful example of placemaking, recovering space ceded to motor traffic.”
Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) said: “One of the Public Realm projects is the proposed improvements at Woodquay. This will be the landing point of the Connemara-Galway Greenway. This is transformative for the area and a really exciting project.”
Senator Pauline O’Reilly (Green Party) said: “It’s funding that’s really going to transform our city. Thing that people have been working on for year, local communities in Woodquay have been looking for a regeneration to have public realm space in Woodquay, Eyre Square, and across the city.”
She said the combination of the new bridge and the Woodquay development “will be something magnificent to come to Galway for, as if there isn’t enough already.”
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien said: “The projects I’m announcing today contain a mix of aims, all supporting the Government’s national planning objectives. Galway’s projects will result in more sustainable transport and compact growth in the city and will provide new opportunities for residential and employment growth. These projects will also help the city transition to a low-carbon future.”
Around half of the €82.8 million is to be spent on the Galway City Council Transport Connectivity Project which includes work on the Ceannt Quarter Regeneration, and a ‘transport requirement study’ on the north lands.
A statement issued by the department also mentions funding for the Galway City Cycle Network, but little detail is given on what extent of the project this funding will be used for but the funding seems to be for the early stages of development of a plan for a cycle network. The press release said that the network is “a sustainable transport project to deliver a safe, cohesive city cycle network. It will include pedestrian facilities as part of the Galway Transport Strategy, building on work initiated in the ‘Call 1’ project.”
Jennings said: “The network of cycle lanes is making its way through the appropriate planning processes. We hope to see a paradigm shift normalising greater consultation, engagement and partnership with local stakeholders and with advocacy groups of end users.”
The transport projects listed in the funding announcement also includes: “Ardaun Access Phase 2 – This will deliver new access routes for the new suburb of Ardaun through construction, redevelopment and linkage of roads. This follows on from a component of the ‘Call 1’ ‘Ardaun Upgrade of Martin Roundabout Parade Quarter’ project.”
The Martin Roundabout refers to a massive planned junction upgrade which includes shared walking and cycling paths.
“Many of these projects have been planned for years, often as part of bigger projects. While the Martin Roundabout upgrade will still have that tension between optimising flow of motor vehicles and improving safety of other road users, it will be a big improvement from our point of view,” said Jennings.