14 January 2022
By Tom Collins
The significant re-drawing of traffic management priorities on Cork’s historic city centre island continues with the advancement of works on the “MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme”.
The scheme will improve the reliability and journey times of bus services in the city centre and, in parallel, will provide improved walking and cycling infrastructure along the city quays and at key streets and junctions, creating a better choice of transport modes for all those using the city centre and its amenities. Incremental works over eighteen months will also see major public realm investment, with 5.5 kms of new pathways and public lighting as well as a substantial programme of tree and shrub planting.
Cycling and pedestrian connectivity improvements, road resurfacing and signalised junction upgrades will facilitate traffic management changes along Anderson’s Quay, Camden Quay, Penrose Quay, Merchants Quay, Patrick’s Quay including Christy Ring Bridge, Lavitt’s Quay, Mulgrave Road, Devonshire Street and Cathedral Walk. The scheme will culminate in the restoration of two way traffic to MacCurtain Street with transformative public realm works there and in the adjoining Bridge Street and Coburg Street area.
The project is part of a strategic city-wide move to a more sustainable environment – and practices – in Ireland’s fastest-growing city. Cork city’s footprint, after a boundary extension in 2019, now additionally encompasses the towns of Ballincollig, Blarney, Tower and Glanmire and the immediate hinterland areas. The city’s population of 210,000 is projected to grow by 50% over the next 20 years.
Cork’s status as an emerging international city of scale and a national driver of economic growth presents challenges as well as opportunities, said Cork City Council’s chief executive, Ann Doherty.
“How people get to and from work and leisure is a key challenge that must be addressed if the city is to function properly and to prosper. A predominant reliance on private car usage is no longer tenable and must be replaced by greater opportunities for walking and cycling and radically improved public transport”.
“In the coming years, those who live and visit the city will see significant change. As part of the National Development Plan, a fund of €200 million is available to Cork to invest in public transport to improve bus frequency, capacity, journey time and ticketing. Public consultation on the Bus Connect network is already underway”.
“On a broader and bigger scale, the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) provides a coherent, integrated transport planning policy framework for the planning and delivery of transport infrastructure to support the development of the Greater Cork area. CMATS has been developed by the National Transport Authority (NTA) in collaboration with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), Cork City Council and Cork County Council”.
Ms Doherty said that in the past two years, Cork had led a national conversation on how cities can be “reimagined”. “An appetite for change is reflected in the welcome for Cork City Council’s initiatives to vastly improve walking and cycling infrastructure, pedestrianise city centre streets and to facilitate outdoor dining and a “greening” of the city on a scale not previously seen. People want a safer and more pleasant city environment and sustainable development to which the MacCurtain Street project will make a significant contribution”,she said.
Victorian Quarter Chairperson, Ciarán O’Connor said: “The businesses of the VQ and surrounding areas embrace the progression of the MacCurtain Street scheme, which will be so beneficial to the whole area. There will inevitably be some disruption as works are undertaken, but the benefits in terms of accessibility, transport links and the improvement of public spaces will be transformative for the VQ and its diverse and vibrant community. This is an exciting time to be in Cork and we are delighted share in the opportunities as our city continues to grow and flourish.”
For regular updates during the project, please see www.transportforcorkcity.ie