Consultants for engineering form Aecom have spent more than a year drawing up a traffic management system for Castletownbere, which it is hoped will alleviate issues, especially after a €21m refurbishment of the town’s pier is completed.
The finalised plans, which will go on show at the Beara Coast Hotel, aims to benefit the seafood industry, locals, and tourists.
The pier investment is expected to generate millions of euro extra per year for the fishing industry and significantly increase the number of HGV coming in and out of the port.
The plan goes on public display at the hotel from 2pm to 8pm. Consultants carried out traffic surveys, speaking to drivers about where their journey originated and terminated, and assessed traffic volumes at 13 junctions during rush-hour periods.
They reviewed all accidents in the town in recent years, so as to improve safety for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
They have produced short- and long-term solutions.
In the short-term, they are recommending rearranging parking spaces in some areas and increase the number of spaces by nearly a third.
Some pedestrianisation of streets will be introduced, along with one-way systems designed to increase traffic flow.
The long-term solution, which has a timeframe of 15-25 years, proposes that a relief road be built around the town, which will be particularly important when port activities start to substantially increase.
Around 80% of jobs in the town are directly associated with the seafood industry and it is expected hundreds more jobs will be created as it expands.
County councillors and members of the Castletownbere Development Association have been briefed on the plans.
Following the public display, people will have four weeks to provide Aecom consultants with comments or submissions on the proposals.
Previous submissions to earlier stages of the plan appear to have been addressed by the consultants.
A number of submissions said pedestrians were not being catered for in town and also cited the lack of adequate parking spaces, which were stated to exacerbate congestion.
Fianna Fáil councillor for West Cork Patrick Murphy said the town is set for a major makeover with the pier enhancement and a multimillion-euro development by Irish Water in 2021 which will see the creation of a sewerage treatment plant and upgrading of mains pipes. A footpath replacement programme and resurfacing of roads are also planned.
Mr Murphy said it is vital that, where possible, works be carried out in tandem to minimise lengthy disruption.
“More and more people are coming into Castletownbere on a daily basis for work,” he said. “We are also seeing a rise in visitors because of the Wild Atlantic Way. Therefore it’s vital that these traffic management plans work.”
He believes that the building of a relief road “will be hugely important” in the coming years as it will be vital for Castletownbere’s further economic development.
He is urging as many local people as possible to attend the public consultation meeting and to make their views known afterwards to Aecom.