A ruling on the proposed ring road project in Galway has been put back until later in the year.

An Bord Pleanála is expected to issue correspondence to Galway County Council and other interested parties, with a revised decision date in the coming days. 

Galway County Council submitted a formal planning application to the board last year for the 18 kilometre route through the city. 

An Environmental Impact Assessment and a Natura Impact Statement, along with site maps and associated documentation, were sent to the planning authority in late October. 

An Bord Pleanála inspectors were due to decide on the application by 7 May but the process is ongoing and a new target date will be revealed in the coming days. 

It is expected an oral hearing, lasting several weeks, will take place in the city as part of the next stage of the process. 

The proposed route would cost €600 million. It would run from a location close to the existing M6 motorway to a site west of the village of Bearna. 

Compulsory Acquisition Notices were issued to around 500 landowners along the route last autumn. The project would entail the demolition of 44 properties, 40 of which are occupied at present. 

Notices have also been placed at more than 70 locations around the city, informing people about possible access and right of way alterations. 

Galway County Council estimates the road would take three years to construct and would involve a number of tunnels, as well as a viaduct over the River Corrib, on lands north of NUI Galway. 

The local authority says it would lead to a major saving in journey times for motorists when completed.

However a number of groups opposed to the project have questioned the merits of building the road.

They contend that enhanced public transport options are urgently needed and say Ireland's obligations to reduce carbon emissions would be compromised by additional road infrastructure of this kind.