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Galway ‘bat bridge’ nearing completion

Wednesday, 19th April, 2017 1:01am

A bat bridge, one of the first of its kind in Ireland, is almost complete on the new motorway from Gort to Tuam.

The bat bridge is located at Coole Green, which is a short distance from the tie-in to the existing M18 at Gort. It is specially built to help bats fly over the new road as they go from their roosts to the feeding grounds on either side of the motorway.

A spokesperson for Direct Route, the group building the road, stated, “It is a ‘green’ bridge that incorporates specific landscaping features. Along with its shaped profile it will maintain a flight corridor for bats.”

The spokesperson explained that the immediate area is populated with a colony of horseshoe bats. “Bats are a protected species under habitat directives and protection measures such as the green bridge were all considered at the planning stage of the scheme.”

Other measures taken included advanced planting of trees and hedgerows early in the project. This was to allow time for additional growth periods before the route opens. They will provide better flight corridors for the bats.

“We also installed temporary fencing during construction to mimic original flight corridors across the extent of the road.”

Other measures to protect wildlife along the route includes mammal underpasses, mammal shelves in river bridges and specialist fencing.

At present there are over 550 people working on the motorway. Over 3.2 million working hours have so far been clocked up on the project. The scheme is in its final year of construction and it is on schedule to open on time, with February 2018 the target for full completion.

The spokesperson added, “Within the contract there is accommodation for traffic on the road at the end of November 2017. So if the road is open to traffic at the end of November it is as per the contract, it is not an early opening.”

“The project team is confident that the scheme will meet all its target dates and will open on time.”

The work on the project continues to progress well in all areas, they said.

“Bulk earthworks, drainage works and all of the principal structures along the project route are essentially complete.”

Pavement works form a considerable proportion of the works that have to be completed. “These works are well underway throughout the scheme and a high percentage of all layers up to wearing course have been completed to date.”

The spokesperson added, “While the public traffic interface with the project is greatly reduced there are a limited number of local road diversions to be completed. We also ask that people continue to exercise extreme caution when travelling on the public road where it interfaces with any roadworks.”

Approximately 95 per cent of all landscaping has been carried out with the remainder to take place prior to the road opening.

“All planting and grass seeding is of native species and areas of rich soil have been retained and are being re-spread as topsoil to encourage the species to regrow in the same areas,” the spokesperson added.

It is hoped that the motorway will form the backbone for an economic corridor, where industries in the West of Ireland will benefit from better and reliable access to international airports at Shannon and Knock and also better linkage with the national road network throughout Ireland.

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