WORKS have commenced on a new scheme in the city centre, which when completed, will hopefully "attract more footfall" and ensure the city is a "better and easier place to get around".
Cork City Council yesterday released new visuals depicting how some of the city’s streets and quays will be transformed once the ambitious MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme is completed.
Funded by the National Transport Authority (NTA), the scheme has been touted as the next phase in the transition to a more sustainable transport system in the city.
Cork City Council say 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.
Incremental works over 18 months will also see major public realm investment, with 5.5km 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, Merchant's 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.
Cork City Council’s chief executive, Ann Doherty said 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 businesses in the quarter and surrounding areas "embrace the progression of the MacCurtain Street scheme".
"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," he continued.
President of the Cork Business Association (CBA), Eoin O’Sullivan, said the CBA is delighted to see that development is starting on the scheme which he said will bring "enormous benefits" to businesses on MacCurtain Street and surrounding streets.
Green Party councillor Dan Boyle also welcomed the progression of the scheme which he said will make the city centre "better to live and work in" and will hopefully ensure the city "will be a better and easier place to get around".
Meanwhile, Independent councillor and former Lord Mayor, Mick Finn, described MacCurtain Street as "a thriving part of the city with great retail, entertainment and hospitality options for citizens and tourists" and said, "any plan to improve the transport and movement infrastructure of the street is to be welcomed".
"These schemes should enhance the current offering, not detract from them so the views and opinions of those who live and make a living on the street must be paramount.
Mr Finn said it is his understanding that there is a plan to commemorate Tomás MacCurtain, after whom the street is named, as part of the reconfiguration which he said would be welcome.
"And hopefully, when Cork next wins a senior All Ireland title, we can revert to using Barry’s Corner for the team parade!"