O’Connell Street rejuvenation plan hit by delays

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Cllr Daniel Butler

VITAL plans to rejuvenate O’Connell Street in Limerick, which would see pedestrians placed at the heart of a new city centre, were hit with further delays this week.

At a recent meeting of the Council’s Metropolitan District, councillors were informed that an EIAR (Environmental Impact Assessment Report) is now required, which means the local authority cannot process the planning through a Part 8 process but must instead make submissions to An Bord Pleanála.

Fine Gael councillor Daniel Butler deemed the delay as “unacceptable”.

“It has somehow taken five months to come to this conclusion that will now take the locus of control out of Limerick. We are told it will take three months to produce a report for this and a probable six months to get a decision, costing us 14 months of a delay in total,” Cllr Butler told the Limerick Post following the meeting.

“So from today, the people of Limerick will be facing a four-year process before we see this project completed, if we include the appointing of a design team, the associated tendering process and eventual construction period, which itself will take 18-24 months on a phased basis.

“As Ireland’s third largest city this is unacceptable and the necessary path repairs deemed as temporary will be in place for four years because of this delay. We need a clear strategy to manage the transition to completion, engaging design specialists and local artists to creatively mask the inevitable mess and temporary measures ahead of us,” he declared.

The core principles in the council’s re-imagining of O’Connell Street include putting pedestrians first, adopting a smarter travel approach, reducing unnecessary car traffic, reducing road signage and improving the streetscape. The plan promotes walking, cycling and public transport to/ from and around the urban centre and introduces sustainable travel information to the urban core.

Fianna Fail councillor Kieran O’Hanlon predicted delays would result in additional insurance claims, while Sinn Fein councillor Séighin Ó Ceallaigh pointed to the absence of cycle lanes from an “eco-friendly council”.

Joe Delaney, Head of Design and Delivery with Limerick City and County Council said the plan for O’Connell Street, which will see a significant increase in space for pedestrians, will include cycle lanes.

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