WORKS to improve traffic flows on Coburg Street and MacCurtain Street have been “more damaging than covid” according to one shop owner.
Mazhar Hasan runs the convenience shop, Happy Days, located on a junction between Devonshire St and Leitrim St, which leads to Coburg St where roadworks and construction have been in place since January this year.
Mr Hasan has noticed a massive drop in foot fall over the past five months, which has led to many of his regular customers shopping elsewhere.
Much of his criticism is aimed at Cork City Council.
“They dig one place, finish that, go to some other place, come back again [to the start] and then dig again half a dozen times. I’ve been watching this for five months.
“If you ask someone [about completing the roadworks], they don’t know when they will finish it. I have heavy stress on my heart because of these people,” he said.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council told The Echo: “Cork City Council continues to work closely with traders on MacCurtain Street and the surrounding area such as Coburg Street and have had constructive engagement and feedback from the stakeholders in this area on how the scheme is progressing.
“Members of our project team are on site on a daily basis, meeting regularly with the traders and responding to any concerns.”
After this phase of works are completed, Coburg St will have a new westbound general traffic lane and one eastbound bus lane.
The Coburg Street Traffic Diversion scheme is being carried out to improve the reliability and journey times of bus services in the city centre and will provide improved walking and cycling infrastructure along the city quays, key streets, and junctions.
This phase of the scheme will deliver upgraded footpaths, new bus stops and shelters, improved public lighting, road resurfacing, lining, and other public realm improvements on Coburg St, Bridge St and MacCurtain St.
The majority of Coburg St is currently closed to traffic. However, access for residents and business owners are in place.
One of Mr Hasan’s major criticisms of the construction is the lack of access available for pedestrians to his shop.
Customers must walk along Devonshire St to the end of the barriers, walk to his shop and walk back along Devonshire St to the end of the barriers.
“I have lost my regular customers and these people don’t care. These people are working in 10 metre areas [on Coburg St], but they blocked all the front and the side [of Happy Days].
“It’s barricaded the whole way and blocked. There’s no hole there.
“People won’t come here because they must walk all the way to the corner, then come to me, then walk all the way back,” he added.
Mubashir Alvi, Owner of Asian Spices on Coburg St echoed some of Mr Hasan’s points.
Mr Alvi has noticed a decrease in footfall, which has led to a 70/80% drop in sales.
“It is very hard. People cannot park, and others cannot come in as it is too difficult.
“Sales are down 70/80%. We are hoping that the place will look nice with more foot fall, and we can get the business back to normal soon.
Like many business owners on Coburg St, Mr Alvi is frustrated that the construction is dragging on.
“I was told that they would finish my footpath by Christmas, then at Easter they would open the two-way traffic.
“That was the plan I was told but they found a few major problems after the plans are done while digging,” he said.
Works have commenced under the MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme, which will see an enhanced public experience, as well as the provision of new bus stops and associated works.
Resurfacing of the road will begin once the works on the adjacent streets have been completed.
Graham Jeffery, owner of Thompson’s Restaurant and Microbrewery, located on MacCurtain St believes the “short term pain for long term gain” is worth the disruptions.
“It’s a bit of short term pain for long term gain. I think it will be great for the street in the long term.
“It’s just a pain at the moment. It’s a bit hard to get in and out but long term it will be great.
“I’m happy about it. It would be lovely to click your fingers and have it done but it doesn’t work like that,” he said.
Graham has not noticed a drop in foot fall due to the ongoing developments on MacCurtain St.
“There was only one week when things were quieter than normal, but generally, it has been the same as always, no major difference really.
“I thought there would be a huge difference when it started but thankfully not. The second week of Easter was quieter, but it seemed to be quiet across the city, so I don’t think it was due to that,” he added.
“I think the street is going to look great and it is already up-and-coming. The Victorian Quarter is helping a lot. All the businesses on the street are involved and have an input in it, which has done a lot already.
“We have plans to do a lot more and I think having a community instead of independent businesses is only positive for the area, Mr Jeffery said.
A spokesperson for Cork City Council said: “As the MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme progresses, we look forward to this continued engagement with all relevant stakeholders associated with the project.
“The scheme will support increased economic activity by providing improved accessibility to the city centre by foot, bicycle and public transport, and delivering public realm improvements that will make the area even more vibrant and attractive place to come to.”
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