Work Continues on the Swangate Car Park

Work is continuing on the car park beside the Back Lawn (Kenny Park). When complete it will provide parking for 140 cars including 7 disabled spaces. Charges will be €3.00 per day Monday to Saturday and free after 6pm and all day Sunday. The car park will be very useful for fans attending matches in the pitch and will relieve the pressure on on-street parking in Prospect / Swangate, which at present often results in driveways being blocked.

There will be a Bottle Bank located in the Car Park which will be welcomed by everyone who had to travel to Monivea or Oranmore over the past 3 years since the bank was removed from the Railway Station. It will be located at the rear of the car park, the farthest spot possible from local houses.

Monivea Road and New Line Road

No Joy on funding for Monivea Road. Unfortunately, as yet no funding has come through for the badly needed improvements for the Monivea Road. The lack of a footpath to serve the 1000 people living outside the railway bridges is one of the glaring needs in the town but no finance has been allocated under the Smarter Travel heading. I will continue to push for funding from the Council and Department of Transport.

Funding Proposal for Cemetery Cross

Each year the Council proposes a small number of projects to the Department of Transport for what is known as the Specific Improvement Scheme where a traffic hazard has been identified on a Regional Road.

Following pressure from me, this year’s list includes Cemetery Cross, which has always been a dangerous junction but has become worse since the M6 has opened. The cemetery entrance complicates the situation and has led to a number of accidents over the years. We should know by year end if the application has been successful.

Town Centre Business

The recession is having a terrible effect on businesses in town centres all over the country and Athenry is suffering as much as any. There is a large number of empty shop units on every street and the 4 year downturn has taken its toll on even long established businesses. Something must be done to try to reverse this trend. l have passed my concerns on to the Government representatives and the County Council management. I believe we have to make it more attractive to locate business on local town streets. I have proposed changes to parking charges, possible reduction in rates for small businesses and a cut in property tax for those who have town centre houses etc.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, September / October 2012

If we are to get out of the tough times we are in we most small towns a chance to drive economic activity, which will have knock-on benefits on employment and the building of community.

Funding Proposed for Dublin Road

For many years and especially since the opening of the new M6 the Dublin Road from the junction at The Forge to the Cemetery has deteriorated badly. It is potholed, subject to severe flooding, is badly lit and the footpath close to the town is in very poor condition.

Hopefully this will all change over the coming months.

Following discussions, I have had with the County Council Roads Department, this stretch of road has been proposed for complete reconstruction to the Department of Transport. The work could cost approximately €300.000 but would completely change the most important entrance to the town.

In addition, the improvements would greatly improve the connection to the town from the Abbeyglen Estate, the other houses on the Dublin Road and Maryfield Nursing Home.

I am very hopeful of a successful outcome for this much needed scheme.

Upper Dunkellin River Maintenance to begin

Following the very successful work done on the River Clarin last year I have been involved with a proposed scheme of similar works on the Dunkellin River — east of Craughwell.

I hope work on removal of fallen trees and other blockages will start in the short term and help prevent the widespread flooding that occurs in the general Kiltullagh area on an all too regular basis.

I would like to pay tribute to the landowners in the area whose agreement in needed for work to progress.

Pothole Repairs Delay Unacceptable

I’m very disappointed with the slow response to pothole repairs, which has occurred over the summer. I have passed my concerns on to the Roads Department of Galway Co. Co. and I expect an improvement over the coming weeks. The problems in the general area are severe at the moment and the response must improve before the winter months when the pothole problems are always at their worst.

Improved Water Quality in Mid-Galway Scheme.

There has been a marked improvement recently in water quality in many of the rural areas around Athenry, Monivea and Kiltullagh. This is due to a major upgrade of the water treatment plant in Abbeyknockmoy. There is now a full series of water treatment in operation at the plant for the first time, ensuring top quality water for the thousands of houses in the area.

Restart For Ring Road

Work will soon restart on the Northern Ring Road. Construction with the completion of the major roundabout on the Tuam Road at Park and the junction on the Moanbaun Road near the Raheen pitch.

Road Works on Tuam Road

Work, costing €200,000, is continuing of the installation of a new storm-water drain on the Tuam Road, which will allow better drainage of surface water.

Flooding at Gloves Relieved

€85,000 has been spent on measures, which should solve the recurring flood at Gloves on the Carnakelly Road. The adjacent side road has also been stabilized by the work; the road edge had recently begun to give way into the open stream but is now safe again for traffic

Traffic Calming Measures in the Town

Two crossing points / ramps have been constructed at the Post Office and the New Park Hotel, giving people the chance to cross the streets and at the same time slowing traffic. We will see more of these features around the town in coming months, hopefully at the Hop Inn corner and near the schools outside the Arch.

Major Pipelaying in September

Trenches have been dug across some streets around the town in recent weeks. That work was a series of exploratory digs in advance of a major pipe-laying scheme to start in September and finish in mid-December. It will mean a new water mains and connections in Northgate Street, Cross Street, McDonalds Lane, Abbey Row, Caheroyan Road and Bridge Street. The work will mean road closures at different times in addition to archeological surveys. It is hoped to minimize disruption as much as possible by putting a traffic management plan in place.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, July / August 2011

Progress on the Ring Road

Good progress is being made on the Ring Road, North of the town. In the coming weeks it is hoped that the re-alignment of the Tuam Road will be complete, bypassing the bad bends there at present. Work has moved to the Ballydavid South side of the Tuam Road and excavations are coming to an end along the first stretch to Moanbaun.

We are applying for further funding in 2011 to continue the project, but in the present climate nothing is certain.

Monivea Road Bridge

As the evenings get darker it is again all too obvious, the danger to pedestrians of using the Monivea Road railway bridge at Caheroyan. I have again asked that consideration be given urgently to the building of a footpath over the bridge. Galway County Council is in regular contact with Iarnróid Éireann on the subject of bridge safety and I will keep you informed of any progress.

Footpath Improvements in Craughwell

Craughwell village suffered badly from the terrible floods last November. Funding has been provided to make general repairs around the village and some flood issues are being addressed. Parts of these funds are now being allocated to renewing footpaths in the village which is very welcome. I would like to compliment the local Development Association, which has worked closely with Galway County Council on the issues.

Roundabout Decision at Last

Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, has finally granted a licence to finish the Prospect Junction, which had been a building site for 3 years.

His decision, though welcome from a Road safety point of view, will not please everyone as it is inevitable in these issues. Many people feel that the heritage aspect of the situation should take precedence as the Loro Gate is a National Monument. However, Mr. Gormley’s professional advisers have come down on the need for a safe junction at this important entrance to the town.

Therefore, the section of wall in question will be preserved beneath the carriageway and the roundabout will be completed over the coming months.

This has been a difficult process and I would like to compliment all those who engaged in it including the various Heritage interests, the Community Council and the Chamber of Commerce. Galway County Manager Martina Maloney has worked tirelessly over the past 3 years to achieve a decision on the issue. It’s a miracle that no serious injury has occurred in that time at the junction, which is a “free-for-all” at times.

We have had a major pothole filling campaign around the area in the past week and the method of repair has improved somewhat, which has led to a reasonable improvement in road surfaces.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, October/November 2010

Sod Turning for Ring Road

The sod turning for the Northern Ring Road took place last Wednesday 1st July at Park. The County Major, Jimmy McClearn did the honours and also attending were many council officials, Loughrea area councillors and some local people and landowners. This section of Ring Road will connect the Tuam Road and the Moanbaun Road. We are lucky that the grant of 1.5 million euro has been preserved and work will proceed immediately after the Galway Races. The ceremony makes a huge step forward for this project, which will re-orientate development around the town and allow the upgrade of the centre of the town in years to come.

Yellow Lines Upgrade

By the time you read this I expect that yellow lines will be added to a number of streets and roads around the area. Most urgent were those at Station Road, around the VEC H.Q., which has been a traffic blackspot because of congestion. l expect lines to be put in place on a stretch of the New Line where cars constantly park in front of residents gates and too close to the junctions.

Walled Towns Weekend

Walled Towns Day this year becomes Walled Towns’ weekend with an expanded mini festival on the weekend of the 22nd August. This is organized between Galway County Council and the Athenry Heritage Centre with the co-operation of Athenry Castle and the OPW. The weekend is financed largely through agrant from the Heritage Council, which marks Athenry’s importance as Ireland’s premier Medieval Walled Town. Keep an eye on local press and advertising for the programme.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, July / August  2010

River Cleaning Project Continues

Last November’s major floods exposed the urgent need for a programme of cleaning the Clarin River channel and the removal of trees and bushes impeding the water flow.

Very soon after the flood, in consultation with householders and landowners, a number of proposals were put forward and agreed between the County Council and the Office of Public Works. These proposals eventually were broadened to cover a complete plan of channel maintenance from Clarinbridge to east of Athenry at Bengarra.

The vast bulk of this work has now been completed as a result of funding being provided by the OPW and Galway County Council. Over the past month there were up to 9 excavators working along the river at any one time.

I was present at the river on most days over the past month and I would like to thank the landowners concerned who were very accommodating despite the disruption. Great credit too must go to the local County Council staff under Christy Mannion who worked long hours in mixed weather to get the work, begun on September 1st, complete before the October 1st deadline.

M6 Access Road to Town Re-laid

One of the few disappointments with the M6 motorway project was the finish to the Athenry access road, which turned into a river of tar during the hot days of summer. Thankfully, following representations to the motorway company, work is well under way to sort out the problem. The tar and chip surface has now been planed away on the roundabouts and sections of the road and is being replaced with a much more acceptable Tarmac finish, which will give a far better surface for driving and a far better impression of the town to visitors using the motorway.

The last major problem is the upkeep, or rather lack of upkeep, of the roadside verges along the new access road. It is very important that this issue be tackled so that the town approaches will be a source of pride in 2011.

The IDA Link Road

I have been asked on a number of occasions as to when the newly completed link road from the motorway roundabout to Newford will be opened. This road is signposted “Derrydonnell” on the access road and, when open, will serve much of the north of the town and will eventually be the connection to the new Ring Road now under construction. I am told that the road will officially be taken in charge by the County Council in October and opened soon afterwards. The road was funded by the IDA as part of their major investment in their 240 acre site. It will effectively be a second entrance from the motorway and will improve Athenry’s potential for investment.

Flooding At Kingsland

The residents of Kingsland, Gloves, Carnakelly, Esker and Attymon will be pleased that work is about to start on the section of road at Kingsland which has been the site of very severe flooding over a number of years. Many cars have been damaged at this spot and on a number of occasions the road has been completely blocked and the Fire Service have had to pump the water away on a regular basis.

The work involved in solving this flood is substantial. A 130 metre section of road will be raised and re-surfaced and a series of gullies will lead to a soak pit in adjacent land.

This work would not be possible without the agreement and co-operation of the landowners in question – the Lally family who are very anxious to have the problem solved and I would like to thank them on behalf of the Community for their help and co-operation.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, September / October  2010

Opening of Athenry – Ennis Railway

The long-waited re-opening of the Athenry-Ennis Railway will take place on March 30th. There will be five services each way daily serving Galway, Athenry, Craughwell, Ardrahan, Gort, Ennis, Sixmilebridge and on to Limerick.

This is a very important occasion, opening a new transport link between two of our largest cities and at the same time providing south Galway with mainline rail link for the first time in over a generation.

It is also very important that this service is successful; this will be measured by the number of passengers using the railway rather than the amount of revenue generated. The use of public transport is to be encouraged but it must be scheduled to suit passengers and at a competitive price. The service will receive a boost during the tourist season when European visitors aged over 65 will have the same “free travel” rights as Irish pensioners.

The re-opening of the Athenry-Tuam-Claremorris section will greatly depend on the level of use on the Galway-Limerick line.

For the moment we are back to the great days of Railway in Athenry when the town was one of the major junctions in the county. Credit for the re-opening must go to a wide group of bodies especially the Government, and particularly the late Seamus Brennan who as Minister for Transport made the funding available. Great credit also to local groups in the West who have ensured that the Railway line itself was preserved especially the Inter County Rail Committee under the stewardship of Fr. Micheal McGreil and the West-On-Track organization, which gave the campaign a great boost from its foundation in 2002. In fact, Athenry played a central role in the success of West-On-Track as Athenry Community Council hosted the launch of the campaign in that year.

I am pleased to be a member of both organizations and together with local activists like, Michael Gardiner, Des Glynn and Gerry Ahem made a contribution to the campaign.

Major Funding for Ring Road

The Minister for Transport has allocated €1.5 million for work in the Northern Ring Road. This is the third successive year the Road has received an increased allocation and it is now well on the way to delivery.

The first section to be completed will be from the Tuam Road to the Raheen Road near the Soccer Pitch. This will involve building a Roundabout and the realignment of the present R347, Tuam Road. This will remove the bad bends just outside the town. The Ring-road will then link the two roads with a three-lane carriageway, cycle lane and footpath. Work will begin during the summer and will be largely complete by year end.

Because the merits of the road have now been accepted by the Department of Transport, I expect funding will continue on an annual basis in the future. The Ring Road will eventually link up with the new access road to the M6 being built at the moment by Wills Brothers for the IDA at Newford. It is heartening to see such commitment to Athenry in these difficult times.

Delay in Tuam Road Improvements

Galway County Council planned to provide €150,000 towards road improvements on the Tuam Road within the town boundary. However, following the reduced allocation for road repairs from the Department of Transport and the decision to spend the reduced monies on potholes and surface repairs, it is now proposed to postpone this work on the Tuam Road. General repairs will continue on the stretch of road in question but the main work will not now go ahead in 2010.

This is a major disappointment but similar decisions have been taken all across the county and indeed the country. I will work hard to ensure the funding is restored as soon as possible.

Ballygurrane Road Works Near End

The badly needed reconstruction of the Ballygurrane to Coshla Road is now almost complete. The road was severely damaged during the N6 construction and the motorists and residents using the road richly deserve the high quality repair put in place.

I attended a number of meetings in the Raheen Woods Hotel over the past 2 years and heard at first hand the annoyance and frustration of local people. I brought these views to the County Council and the NRA and I must say from early on in the project there was a firm commitment from the NRA to reconstruct the road. At the time I felt it better to keep the promise of funding quiet as it was very important that the road be maintained to some level during the construction of the M6.

The NRA was as good as is word and the funding of close on 1 million euro was made mailable once haulage of materials was largely complete. It is a great relief that the new surface is now in place.

Lighting on the Ennis Bridge and New Raheen Link Road

Following representations from local residents, who are now using the new footpath over the rebuilt Ennis Bridge at Prospect, I asked the County Council and Irish Rail to provide lights on the bridge as there had been lighting there previously. Discussions are taking place and I have received a commitment that lights will be provided in the near future. Similarly on the new Raheen Link Road which has the lamp standards in place but no lighting on the Ard Aoibhinn end. I expect this will be sorted out in the coming weeks.

The new road and the footpath over the Ennis Bridge have provided a safe walking route for those who feel like exercise. This was lacking since the building of the new access road to the motorway.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, March / April 2010

Backlawn Car Park about to start

It is now a couple of years since the council acquired the land beside Kenny Park for the construction of a car park and work is about the start. The car park will have approximately 140 spaces with a number of disabled bays. The opening of this facility in the town will provide long-stay parking which is badly needed at evenings and weekends for match goers. This will alleviate the parking problems for the people of Swangate and Prospect.

It has also been decided by the Environment Section of the council to locate a bottle bank at the car park to replace the one removed from the station. They assure me that this facility will be properly constructed and monitored and will be maintained to the highest level with top quality CCTV.

They have also agreed to locate it at a point on the site as far as possible from the main road.

Traffic Dangers at Cemetery Cross

Since the M6 opened, the priority or right of way at Cemetery Cross has been changed. The closure of the Pound Road as a through road means that traffic is traveling through the crossroad at a much higher speed. The result of this is increased danger to the public and a very unsightly junction at the entrance to the town.

In particular, cars exiting the cemetery gates find it difficult to get across the Craughwell Road in safety due to the increased speed of traffic. The problem has been assessed by the council and a number of solutions are being considered. A traffic audit shows that the majority of vehicles are using the Athenry Craughwell Road rather than the Kiltullagh Road but to change the right of way to the Craughwell Road would mean the Cemetery exit would be impossible to use due to lack of visibility.

Engineers are to get back to me in the coming fortnight with the preferred solution. A roundabout would probably solve all problems but would necessitate land acquisition which can be a long process.

In the meantime the inadequate signage at the cross will have to be improved.

N6 Repairs Continue

About three quarters of the issues regarding the M6 construction have now been resolved with the majority of the remainder well on the way to being tidied up. Local representatives meet with N6 representatives and County Council Engineers on a weekly basis and will continue to do so until all problems are resolved.

Following separate discussions, the N6 team has assured me they will re-surface the Athenry approaches to the motorway.

Road Improvements in Kiltullagh and Craughwell

We recently allocated €135,000 towards reconstruction of two roads at Killariv, Kiltullagh that have been badly damaged by recent heavy traffic and bad weather and are now used as access roads for the M6 at Kiltullagh. Following the flood damage at Craughwell funds have been allocated to repair the surface on the N6 through Craughwell. This work is continuing at present.

Pothole Repairs

We all know the havoc played on our roads by the weather and heavy traffic and most of us have the car repair bills to prove it. The Road’s Department is sticking rigidly to its policy of not paying compensation for damage to cars on the basis that the potholes are caused by weather and normal wear and tear and it is a case of “driver beware”.

This policy angers many people on the basis that they pay their motor tax and fuel tax and are entitled to a decent road. Unfortunately, these taxes like many others now just go into the general government tax fund and we seem to be entitled to very little under any of those headings. So, it’s a case of be very careful when driving and if you come across a pothole report it to me at 087 6812403 or the local council office at 091 844042 or Loughrea office at 091 841536.

We have had a major pothole filling campaign around the area in the past week and the method of repair has improved somewhat, which has led to a reasonable improvement in road surfaces.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, February / March 2010

Ring Road to Begin in June

Work will begin on the Northern Ring Road in June. This follows the allocation of €1.5 million towards the project. The work schedule has been agreed in the last week and will be undertaken by Galway County Council and Sub-Contractors.

This stage of the Ring Road will link the Tuam Road and Moanbaun Road.

Backlawn Car Park

Work on the Backlawn Car Park will also start in June and will deliver 140 spaces and a Bottle Bank Facility.

Prospect Roundabout

There has been no response from the Minister for the Environment on the future of the roundabout at Prospect.

Major Heritage Funding for Town Walls

The Heritage Council has allocated €110,000 towards work on the Town Walls in 2010. The successful project was submitted by Galway County Council and involves the refurbishment of the Wall between the South East Tower on the Dublin Road at the Arrabawn Compound and the Priory. The wall will be stabilised, rebuilt where necessary and ivy will be removed.

The latest phase of the repair of the Town Walls was on the Tower at the Presentation Convent which has recently stabilised and refurbished.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, April / May 2010

Major Road Changes Help Traffic Movement

The Raheen Link road is now open to traffic.

As you read this we will be getting used to the various traffic changes around the town. We’ve waited for years for improvements and thankfully a few badly needed changes have happened together.

The Raheen Link Road has opened to traffic which will take some of the pressure off Church Street / Old Church Street and allow easy access to the Galway and Coshla Roads.

Work is continuing on replacing the Ennis Bridge at Prospect. I hope the result will be much safer for both pedestrians and motorists.

The new road layout at the Cemetery Cross is much safer and will reduce delays there. This is as a result of the creation of a cul-de-sac on the Pound Road and the opening of the new M6 access road.

Ring Road Construction Set to Start

The first phase of the Athenry Ring Road is set to start in the coming weeks when work begins at Newford on a new bridge over the Dublin to Galway railway. This will link the present M6 access route at Newford to the IDA lands across the railway at Ballygurrane. The road will continue into the IDA lands located opposite the Raheen Woods Hotel and will allow further Ring Road stages to be constructed, eventually linking the Monivea Road, Tuam Road, Moanbaun Road, Ballygurrane Road and the Galway Road / M6.

Athenry — Limerick Railway Opening in December

Work continues on the Westem Rail Corridor which will open in December. This is a little behind schedule but it will give us a top quality rail link with the Mid West and South and allow the people of South Galway to access Dublin by rail for the first time in decades.

One of the benefits to Athenry station is the improved disabled access measures for all passengers. At present we can see the lift shafts for a new over bridge which will allow everyone access to both platfonns. Up to now the metal footbridge has been the only crossing point which was difficult for many elderly passengers and those with buggies and small children.

We must now continue to press for a continuation of the re-opening of the line to Tuam and Claremorris which will then provide a meaningful rail link along the west coast.

I have worked hard over the past number of years both at the Community and County Council levels to raise the awareness of the needs of Athenry in relation to transport. The case for the Ring Road, the Westem Rail Corridor and believe it or not the junction on the M6 at Athenry had all to be argued and fought for month after month, year after year. It is never easy to get infrastructure improvements in the West but in these cases we have proven our case and I hope the rewards will be great for the whole area in the future.

This Article was first published in East Galway News and Views, September /October  2009