By Siobhán Holliman, Tuam Herald
TRANSPORT Minister Shane Ross is set to cut the ribbon on the Tuam bypass and the new Tuam to Gort motorway (M17-M18) on Wednesday, September 27 – weeks ahead of schedule.
The opening of the long-awaited toll-free route will reduce the journey time between Tuam and Shannon while the bypass will ease chronic congestion endured by motorists travelling through the town’s outskirts.
While some businesses have expressed concern that the bypass will hit trade in the town, others believe reducing bottlenecks along the town’s perimeter will help make Tuam more shopper-friendly and attractive.
Galway East Independent Deputy Sean Canney says it’s imperative that Tuam and the IDA work together to show potential employers and businesses that it is an ideal location for investment.
Much of the IDA’s business development park on the Dunmore Road is empty and Deputy Canney is keen to see the state agency puts an advance building on the extensive site as a further way of marketing the area to potential employers.
Last year during a visit to the 20-acre IDA Business and Technology site in Tuam, a leading official in the IDA highlighted the importance of the motorway route in greatly enhancing Tuam’s attractiveness as a location for new employers.
“The motorway will make a huge difference across East Galway. I’ve already spoken to one business person who is expanding their operation because of the route.
“The new motorway will enhance connectivity to Dublin and Shannon, reducing travel time to Shannon Airport by up to 20 minutes and over 30 minutes to Dublin Airport, and will make the route much more attractive for people in Mayo and Sligo, especially as the route is toll-free,” remarked Deputy Canney.
Now the town centre businesses must combine their efforts to showcase the town in its best light, according to the Independent TD.
“Traders in Tuam need to join together and prepare for the opening of the routes and market the town as a place to do business,” stressed Deputy Canney.
“Backlogs of traffic for a few miles coming into town on Thursday and Friday evenings are no invitation to a town to stop off and do some shopping. Tuam has a great selection of retail, restaurants and leisure facilities and the job now is to tell everyone about it.”
A number of publicly owned derelict sites are in line for investment in the town while some €35 million is being invested in health facilities in Tuam, which the TD believes should be viewed as very positive for the region.
The M17 motorway was first mooted nearly two decades ago and has been constructed as a public private partnership. Construction work began on the multi-million project in 2015 and the original target completion date was early 2018. However, work progressed much faster than anticipated.
The motorway starts at the Kilmore junction (Galway Road) in Tuam and travels for just over 53km when it joins with the northern end of the N18 Crusheen to Gort scheme which opened at the end of 2010.
Two weeks before vehicles begin their first journeys on the route, more than 1,200 cyclists will enjoy the smooth road surface as part of the charity Great Western Motorway Cycle taking place on September 10. Register at iregister,ie/greatwesterncycle.