City may still be open to cars

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rp_oconnellstreet.jpgLIMERICK’S city centre may now not be pedestrianised as part of a €9 million facelift with council officials saying that no decision has yet been taken on what form the revamp will take or whether the city will have a car free future.

Local Green Party spokesperson Brian Haugh has dismissed Independent City Councillor John Gilligan’s call for the local authority to invest in car parks before agreeing to move ahead with the remodelling of O’Connell Street. 

“The proposed pedestrianisation of O’Connell Street from William Street to Roches Street will bring huge benefits to the city centre, making it a more pleasant and safer place for people living, working and shopping in the city,” Mr Haugh said.

“One need only look at the success of similar works on Thomas Street to see how transformative this project could be. If we truly want to enhance the city centre as a destination rather than a three lane throughway then we really need to create a streetscape where people can relax and mingle in a pleasant environment.

“If we truly want to compete on a national and international stage for tourism and large multinational companies, this is exactly the type of forward thinking and visionary project we need to be focuses on.”

He said that claims that pedestrianisation would lead to a shortage of parking in the city centre “seems to ignore the large number of multi-story car parks already located in close proximity to the city centre, some of which even offer parking at rates cheaper than on-street parking.  These are far from full and could easily absorb the roughly 25 on-street parking spaces that would be lost between William Street and Roches Street,” he explained.

The Green Party spokesman said that the city needs to “be investing in upgrading its public transport and cycling infrastructure so that people living in the city and suburbs don’t need to bring their cars into town”.

Traffic management will be under the microscope as well as the pedestrianisation proposal and calls have been made for various solutions, including more cycle access and more public transport options.

The overall refurbishment project starts at Denmark Street Junction and stretches up to Barrington Street.

It’s hoped that when the final design is agreed, work will start early next year and the city centre will have a new look within 18 months.

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