Posted by Declan Tierney, Connacht Tribune in News.

The long awaited bypass for Claregalway will be put out to tender next year with construction of the five kilometre stretch expected to begin in early 2012.

It is the Christmas present that the residents and the businesses in Claregalway had been hoping to receive for many years as progress on the project will be stepped up during the course of 2011.  Motorists travelling along the N17 on a regular basis will also be delighted with the progress.

And the Connacht Tribune has been told by senior officials in Galway County Council that if the property owners along the proposed route of the bypass had agreed to sell the lands required for the new road, it would have been built by now.

Instead, Galway County Council has had to employ a firm of consultants to bring the process to compulsory purchase order stage and this will commence early in the New Year.

Senior Roads Engineer with Galway County Council, Martin Lavelle said that they would not have been given the funding from the Department of Transport to engage consultants if the bypass was not proceeding.

He explained that the N17 Tuam–Galway road has the capacity to take 13,800 vehicles a day but there was an average of 27,000 vehicles passing through Claregalway on a daily basis,

Mr. Lavelle added that during the current cold snap, that number had increased to 33,000 with a considerable number of motorists reluctant to use the traditional rat runs.

He said that construction costs had reduced considerably as had land prices and the project could come in at around €15 million—that is some €10 million less than was projected four years ago.

Galway West TD Noel Grealish, who was promised the bypass in return for his support of the Government in 2007, said that it was full steam ahead and described as a necessary piece of infrastructure.

Despite the fact that he has now withdrawn his support from the Government, he said that he was delighted that progress would be made next year.

“The compulsory acquisition of the land will take place, the project will be put out to tender and the tenders will be assessed. The funding has been put in place for this process and there is no doubt that it will proceed,” Deputy Grealish added.

He said that suggestions that the proposed new motorway from Gort–Tuam would effectively become the Claregalway bypass were “nonsense”. “Anyone who put forward that argument is living in cloud cuckoo land,” he said.

Mr. Lavelle agreed. He said that even with a motorway, there was still a requirement for an inner relief road to take traffic away from the village centre.