RESIDENTS opposed to a new bus lane being developed on a key Limerick city route are expected to pack a specially convened meeting of Limerick City Council this afternoon, when a vote will be taken.
Council management want to develop a green bus lane from the Crescent Shopping Centre to the city centre at a cost of €5 million.
Phase one, costing €1.4m, could commence shortly, and by mid- 2011 could open up a bus lane from the shopping centre to Punch’s Cross.
The second phase, costing €2.5m, would complete the bus lane to the city centre at Mallow Street.
Limerick Chamber of Commerce and Bus Éireann say the new bus lane is essential, but residents in Ballinacurra and O’Connell Avenue are opposed to the scheme.
Mayor Maria Byrne (FG), whose main political base takes in Ballinacurra and O’Connell Avenue, is backinglocals and has tabled a notice ofmotion calling for a “more appropriate route” which will be voted on attoday’s special council meeting.
Fine Gael – which controls the 17- member council with nine councillors – is divided on the issue.
Former mayor Kevin Kiely (FG) supports the project but Mayor Byrne said: “I have made it quite clear to the city manager. I have asked him to look at other options, and there are other appropriate routes. We have a number of businesses on the route and none of these are in favour. It will destroy their business.”
Following a recent meeting with councillors, Pat Dromey, director of services, said as far as management was concerned it was “all systems go”.
“We believe it is necessary for the economic development of Limerick and is in line with government policy,” he said.
Mr Dromey said the council wants to move ahead to tender stage and this would allow work to commence within four to six weeks. Phase one of the new bus lane, he said, should be open within eight or nine months.
Bus lanes already operate in the city at Mulgrave Street, Childers Road and a section of the Ennis Road near the Regional Maternity Hospital.
Limerick County Council has already built a bus lane from Raheen to Dooradoyle Shopping Centre and that comes to a dead halt at the county boundary.
Bus Éireann says the proposed bus lane would transform the quality, frequency and reliability of its services in Limerick and bring significant economic, social and environmental benefit to the city. Its regional manager Miriam Flynn said: “It has been proven internationally and in Ireland that green routes in and out of cities lead to a more punctual, reliable and quicker bus service that results in greater usage of public transport.
“Better public transport encourages shoppers into the city centre, promotes social inclusion and mobility for those without cars and enhances the environment. The green routes proposed by Limerick City Council have a key role to play in the revitalisation of Limerick city.”
Ms Flynn said the Ballinacurra /O’Connell Avenue green route would benefit the thousands of people in Limerick who use the company’s busiest city services every day to travel to important economic, educational and health centres along the route.
She said it would also benefit customers using the Ballycummin service, all provincial bus services operating from west Limerick and inter-city services from Cork, Tralee and Killarney.
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