MAJOR changes can be expected to the city's traffic infrastructure over the coming years, with Cork City Council set to move onto new phases of the ambitious plans to revamp the city's road network.
The local authority has already completed a number of works under the City Centre Movement Strategy, a multi-year plan to revamp the city's traffic infrastructure, improving access to the city centre for pedestrians, cyclists, public transport users and all other road users.
2018 will see the plan move from its initial phases to the quay area, an essential element of the overall plan. It will include works on MacCurtain St and Patrick's Quay, while it will also see the completion of earlier stages of the plan, which largely focused on Patrick St and nearby arteries.
2017 saw the commencement of the strategy, which was finally approved by elected members in September 2016 after a number of years of discussion.
It came after a number of amendments had been made to earlier drafts of the plan after some pressure came from city businesses and residents, with many concerned about the impact that the changing traffic flows would have in their communities.
While not all the concerns were addressed, city officials and elected members opted to press ahead with the works with an eye to enhancing the entire city over the coming years.
Among the more controversial elements of the plan is the restrictions that will be placed on private traffic on Patrick St.
These measures are expected to be in place by the end of the year, with quite a few other elements in this phase of the plan already completed.
When in place, it will limit access to the city's main thoroughfare to public transport, taxis and bicycles between 3pm and 6.30pm.
To facilitate this change, which should see more traffic directed towards the city quays, Castle St reverted to an eastbound one-way system last year, while changes can also be seen in Grenville Place, Grattan St and Sheare's St.
Senior officials at City Hall have confirmed that the project is now moving towards later stages of the plan, including a revamp of the traffic flow in the MacCurtain St area.
The Victorian Quarter of the city is one that will see significant changes in the coming years, with the proposed development of the Harley St bridge across the River Lee from Merchant's Quay to Harley St set to open up the entire area.
The pedestrian and cycle bridge is funding by the European Union and is viewed as a key element of the overall plan. Work on the bridge is expected to begin early this year, transforming the entire area when complete.
From there, efforts will be made to revert MacCurtain St to a two-way traffic system, replacing the current one-way west-to-east flow.
Traders in the area have long called for the change to come into effect, claiming that the current system renders the area a rat race for many motorists.
From there, city officials will turn their attention to the North Mall and Pope's Quay areas, with later stages of the plan tackling the South Mall, George's Quay, Sullivan's Quay and, eventually, North and South Main St.