Joe Leogue looks at the new traffic proposals for Cork city and answers the key questions surrounding the plans.
What is the City Centre Movement Strategy?
According to its authors, the City Centre Movement Strategy is “a revised traffic management layout in the city centre to make the city more attractive to all users”, that aims to “improve the general vibrancy of Cork city centre to promote sustained economic growth, to deliver a much more attractive environment for shoppers, visitors, and tourists, and to help encourage sustained inward investment”.
Overall there are eight phases to the plan, and rather than introduce wholesale changes all at once, the council will introduce the phases on a piecemeal basis. On Monday night, the city council voted in favour of introducing phases one and two.
What will that involve?
Phases one and two concern changes in areas around St Patrick’s Street and the Grattan St/Sheares St area around the Mercy Hospital.
The most eye-catching proposal is to restrict St Patrick’s Street to buses, taxis, cyclists, and the emergency services from 3pm to 6.30pm. Other changes include changing the flow Castle St so that it goes eastbound, from North main St to Daunt Square one-way — a reversal of the current set up.
Also, whereas Grenville Place by the Mercy Hospital was two-way, it will instead go one way from Sheares St towards Bachelors Quay.
On-street parking, which currently runs up until 6.30pm, will be extended by two hours and whereas your parking disk will currently get you two hours’ parking, proposals voted in on Monday will see that reduced to one hour.
Other proposals include new footpaths, cycle lanes, taxi ranks, and disabled parking spaces.
Banning cars, reducing the amount of time you can park — won’t this be bad for businesses in the town centre?
Not according to the authors of the City Centre Movement Strategy. They say the proposals will “improve on reliability and reduced journey times” for the city’s buses “which will make public transport a more viable alternative to the private car for journeys to the city centre, thereby reducing overall congestion”. They say the changes will make coming into the city centre more attractive for pedestrians and cyclists — and they say that a recent retail study in Dublin “found the spend of consumers who walked or cycled into the city was greater than those consumers who drove and parked cars”.
So everyone’s happy then?
Not quite. The council vote proved divisive — 19 voted for it, but seven were against.
Locals living in the area and businesses have also aired their concerns, with the Middle Parish Residents Association and North Main St traders letting officials know their fears about the proposals. In particular they are worried diverting traffic away from St Patrick’s Street will only cause congestion elsewhere in the city and lead to parking problems.
When will these changes come in?
The date has yet to be set, but the current suggestions are that they will be introduced late next year.
And then what comes next?
Phases three and four of the scheme concern proposals for Parnell Place, Merchants Quay, and St Patrick’s Quay and MacCurtain St, but they are not expected to be voted on for some time.
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