Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has effectively ruled out the prospect of a bypass of Claregalway being built any time soon, if at all.
The Minister said that his department doesn’t have any money to build the €21 million road around the traffic-jammed village.
He also intimated that even if his department had the money, there may not be a need to build a bypass of Claregalway because the new Gort–Tuam motorway could remove the need for a relief road.
The minister’s comments are a blow to Claregalway bypass campaigners and local politicians such as Independent Noel Grealish, who for over a decade has staked much political capital in a relief road for the village.
In a statement on the prospect of the Claregalway bypass being built and the progress made on the road to date, Varadkar said: “The preliminary cost estimate given in the 2010 feasibility study report for the Claregalway inner relief road was approximately €21 million. The Council was allocated €50,000 towards the design of the Báile Chláir Inner Relief Road in 2013. However the reality is that my Department is not in a position to commit funding to the construction of a relief road for Claregalway at this stage, but we will reconsider the matter should the financial position improve. Any such review would also take account of progress on the M17/18 project and its potential impact on traffic levels in Claregalway.
In relation to funding of roads projects he added: “Given the current financial position it has been necessary to reduce the grant allocations for major new road schemes and for major realignment schemes. The main focus has to be on the maintenance and repair of roads and this will remain the position in the coming years. The small amount of funding available for major schemes will focus on projects already under construction or that this Department is already committed to.”