Business leaders in a key employment hub have called for urgent action on sustainable transport solutions amid predictions that employment in the area could double to 30,000 in a decade.
A raft of suggestions, including the introduction of flexitime, the development of new slip roads, and the introduction of bike sharing and car pooling, have also been put forward in a bid to ease chronic traffic congestion in Little Island, on the outskirts of Cork city — home to about 1,000 companies employing around 16,000 people — and where some workers regularly experience delays of up to 40 minutes coming to and from work.
It follows the publication of the findings of a major traffic survey in the area conducted by Little Island Business Association (LIBA), with advice from Kevin Burke, a senior transport planner in London.
LIBA president, William Cuddy, said while the last eight years have been about trying to stabilise the economy, it is vital that planning starts now to ensure that Little Island remains attractive to potential investors. LIBA chief executive, Michael Mulcahy, said the survey is a first step in a process of building a sustainable and welcoming employment hub.
But he said that while local councillors, through Cork County Council, are advancing a number of projects, a master plan is needed.
“We believe the potential for Little Island as a key hub of employment in Cork could see a doubling of employment numbers in the area over the next 10 years and we need to act now to be ready for this,” he said.
“We contribute over €30m annually in rates to Cork County Council and this is likely to increase significantly in the years ahead so we want a return on our investment.”
The survey found most people arrive in the area between 8am and 9am and leave between 4.45pm and 5.45pm.
It found the use of Eastgate Business Park as an access point to the An Crompan roundabout is creating delays for those in the business park.
It highlighted concerns about motorists queue jumping on slip road for Little Island eastbound on the N25. And it said the Island Cross junction is inadequate, the Little Island area is poorly served by buses, and not enough people are using public transport, particularly, the two train stations.
Among the possible solutions suggested were the development of an extra filter lane to the left when exiting Eastgate for Glounthaune, and a new slip road west of Little Island after the MSL Cork, Laya, and Lilly buildings, with an entry point to the western part of Eastgate.
Survey respondents also called for the introduction of a local bike sharing scheme, and covered bike stores at Little Island and Glounthaune train stations.
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