Posted by Kernan Andrews, Galway Advertiser in News.

A piece of the Atlantic Corridor jigsaw that will encourage further commercial investment in the region.

Galway and the west of Ireland is in line for a major employment boost in the construction sector with the announcement that the three and a half year N17/N18 Tuam to Gort motorway road project is to begin construction.

After six years of lobbying, construction of the long awaited motorway, to provide an additional 57km of motorway along a key artery of the west’s economic corridor, begins later this year.

The announcement was made by the National Roads Authority on Monday. The N17/N18 Project, now prioritised in the Government’s Capital Programme, will cost €550 million and take three and a half years to complete.

Construction will begin in October/November and it is estimated that it will see 300 people engaged in work on the motorway. It is also believed that this will have a knock-on effect on the surrounding region, in particular for B&Bs, shops, bars, and other local businesses, with benefits resulting from the influx of workers.

The N17/N18 Project, which forms part of the Atlantic Road Corridor, consists of 57km of motorway/dual carriageway.

It starts at the northern extremity of the N18 Gort/Crusheen scheme and extends north with junctions at Kiltiernan, connecting in the N67; at Rathmorrissey, connecting to the new M6 Dublin-Galway route; at Annagh Hi8l, connecting to the N63; and at Tuam; connecting to the existing N17.

Michael Coyle, CEO Galway Chamber, said the completed roadway would “enhance connectivity between Tuam/Galway and Shannon/Limerick” and will act as a major economic boost to the region.

“This piece of the jigsaw of the Atlantic Corridor will encourage further commercial investment in the region,” Mr. Coyle told the Galway Advertiser. “A road providing greater connectivity to air access is seen as vital by our multinational base and also for tourism in providing tourists with easy access to Galway city and county. This is an important piece of infrastructure and for tourism and business it is absolutely vital.”

The project was the subject of a meeting last month between a Galway delegation, which included Michael Coyle, CEO Galway Chamber, and Mark Gantly, West Regional Director of the American Chamber, representing the Western Business Action Group, who met Fred Barry, CEO of the National Roads Authority (NRA).

Gerry Finn, Director of the Border, Midland and Western Regional Assembly, welcomed the announcement, saying it was a “watershed” in the development of the west of Ireland”.

He said the road corridor, as it stands, between Tuam and Gort, had “for too long” been “a constraint to the development of the region”. “Along with variable travel times, this stretch of road is renowned as having one of  Ireland’s worst bottlenecks at Claregalway where commuter travel combined with those traveling to destinations beyond Galway have led to significant hold-ups,” he said.

“It will be positive for both enterprise development and the overall accessibility and quality of life for people in the region.”