A proposal for a long-awaited Galway city bypass has been signed off by Cabinet today and will now proceed to the planning stages.

Up to 40 properties are located on the proposed route and are likely to be demolished if the plan goes ahead. All affected landowners have been notified.

Traffic congestion in Galway city is an all too familiar sight.

Now, the rubber-stamping by Government of the planned Galway city ring road marks progress in what has been a painstakingly slow process.

The N6 Galway City Transport project has been years in the planning.

A previous proposal to construct a city bypass was blocked on environmental grounds in 2013. It was back to the drawing board, so planners unveiled six possible routes to deal with Galway's chronic traffic congestion.

A so-called "preferred corridor" was identified for the ring road in 2015, and will run from the M6 motorway to a point west of Bearna village.

The N6 project will include the building of both dual and single carriageway routes, as well as two sections of tunnel - one of them close to Galway Racecourse and the second section on the approach to the river Corrib. A new bridge is also planned to be built over the river.

Planners say the proposed route does not impact on habitats that are protected under EU law.

Galway County Council can now go ahead and seek planning consent from An Bord Pleanála for the new bypass. Once the application is placed before the planning board, it will be subject to an oral hearing. The local authority says the M6 project is robustly designed to withstand anticipated legal challenges.

As well as residents along the routes, the Chamber of Commerce and NUI Galway have been steadfast in their opposition to a route that goes close to the city centre.

Other opponents of the project say the potential for a public transport solution has not been fully examined.