Traffic control, more pedestrianisation of the town centre and the building of underground car parks, as well as the town’s first multi-storey car park, are included in a draft master plan presented to the town council by consultants Murray O’Laoire.
Cash flow from parking charges, as well as money earned from businesses to be developed on council land at present used for parking, will help fund the plan, according to the council.
The top tourist town has been beset by serious traffic congestion for many years but the latest plans are intended to reduce traffic flow into the town centre and to make more commercial use of council-owned property currently used for parking.
Two of the council’s car parks are in the town centre Glebe and New Street sites, but the plan is to develop underground parking space with commercial and retail developments on the surface.
“The Glebe is an amazing site in the middle of Killarney, linking several streets and moving people around the town,” said Emma Curley, of Murray O’Laoire, during the presentation of the draft to the council.
“By putting parking underground, the surface could be used for cultural, residential, commercial and retail
purposes. The site needs such a mix to give it a 24-hour life.”
A 480-space, multi-storey car park is envisaged for the railway station site which will also include shopping
According to the consultants, the multi-storey facility will compensate for the shortfall arising from the reduction in spaces at the Glebe site, the loss of some on-street parking (arising from pedestrianisation) and the general growth of the town.
The plan also includes a two-storey car park at High Street, adjacent to the library, with spaces for 120 cars.
A total of 240 parking spaces are planned for the Glebe, but the biggest site will be New Street which will have 566 spaces underground. A 400-seat theatre is also planned for the New Street site.
There’s also a call for a public bus service in Killarney as another means of reducing the number of cars coming into the town centre.
Up to now, use of public transport has been quite low, surveys showing that buses accounts for only 1% of all trips to work and 16% of all school trips.
The consultants stress there must be far more use of public transport as a means of relieving congestion.
There have been proposals to develop a light rail system on the existing Killarney/Tralee line, but high costs may be prohibitive.
The plans also proposes a change in location for the jarvey stand, at present in Kenmare Place, in the heart of the town and on a busy junction.
In order to improve accessibility to the jaunting cars, the plan is for a new jarvey stand with an office and public toilet close to the National Park. Also, all the jarveys would be in the same location.
Ms Curley said that, at present, people have to go through four junctions to get to the stand.
“We want to make it easier for people to get to the stand. We believe the new proposal will help increase the jarveys’ business,” she added.