It is looking increasingly likely that the N17 will be blocked off for up to a month this winter while flood prevention measures are installed at Claregalway Bridge.
Engineers are planning what is termed a flood eye at the bridge which means they will be adding an additional channel on one side of the river to allow backed-up flood water flow under the bridge and on to Lough Corrib more easily.
This will be a nightmare for commuters and vehicles using the West’s main transportation artery but will provide relief not only for Claregalway and its hinterland but also the communities of Abbeyknockmoy and Corofin which will benefit from the flood relief measures.
Engineers have to decide whether it is best to close the Claregalway bridge entirely for three to four weeks and get the work completed in as short a timeframe as possible or to cut traffic down to a single lane and keep half the bridge open at a time.
Residents in the Corrandulla and general Carnmore/Cregmore areas will be alarmed at the news that their communities are to become official ‘rat runs’ during the construction period and there is expected to be considerable opposition to this development.
However, members of Galway Co Council agreed at a meeting in County Hall on Monday that the benefits in terms of flood relief in the long term will outweigh the short-term inconvenience caused by the bridge works.
Minister Martin Mansergh announced a €8 million programme of flood relief and prevention works when he visited Claregalway on Thursday. This will fund works recommended by a joint OPW/Galway Co Council Working Group on the Clare River Flood Study.
Other works approved include: construction of a similar flood eye at Crusheen Bridge; road raising at Miontach South and North; channel maintenance and culvert upgrades at Kiniska, work on the wall at An Mhainistir housing estate and building an embankment at the old Nine Arches Bridge.
Remedial flood relief works are also taking place in several other areas throughout the county which were impacted on by last year’s flooding.
Tuam-based Cllr Tom McHugh said there was a large number of very welcome flood relief projects which are either underway or ready to start. He and his colleagues recognised that the plans for Claregalway would be a nightmare for motorists and commuters while ongoing but they accepted that if they were to tackle the flooding threat and spare people a repeat of last year’s terrible flooding then it had to be done.
“This is a major engineering project and we should not underestimate the difficulties it will cause for people but if we can put up with it for a limited number of weeks then the benefits should be clear to see. I don’t expect people to be happy about this but sometimes difficult decisions have to be made for the greater good and we are fortunate to be in a position to have several important projects underway before the threat of winter flooding sets in,” he said.
Director of Services for Roads and Transportation Frank Gilmore told The Tuam Herald that he would be meeting with the consultants and the OPW next week to finalise plans. They would be looking at the possibilities regarding the traffic situation but no definite decisions have been taken yet.
He confirmed that the options were closing the bridge completely for three to four weeks or opting for a stop-go system.
“If everything goes according to plan we hope work will begin in the third week of September and be completed by the end of October.”
He acknowledged that either way it would present severe difficulties for motorists during the construction period but pointed out that last winter motorists had to go through similar inconvenience. This time at least the disruption will have a positive benefit for not only the community of Claregalway but all who were impacted on by the flooding in the Clare River catchment area.
For more information visit the Galway County Council website here.