Nenagh traders are for the most part sceptical of a new traffic management plan for the town unveiled by Tipperary County Council.
The council held a special consultation night for the traders in the Civic Offices at which many found flaws with the proposed plan. However, it was agreed that the council had at least come up with a blueprint to ease traffic congestion in the town centre.
Under the plan, which was described by consultant Dermot Donovan as a traffic circulation plan, it is proposed to make Pearse Street, Mitchell Street, Kickham Street and Emmet Place one-way, with some buildings being demolished in Emmet Place, and reversing the current one-way system on Silver Street, eliminating the traffic lights at the junction of Kenyon Street and Pearse Street. It would allow for the bus stops at Kickham Street to be split with one remaining and the other moving to Pearse Street. A new roundabout would be built at Emmet Place / Banba Square.
It is also peoposed to look at placing a new connection between Summerhill and Dublin Road to ease traffic at MacDonagh Street and to allow for cross-connections between various parts of Nenagh.
Mr Donovan pointed out that at present it takes 11 minutes to travel 1km, which was no better than a fast walking pace. There is a problem if the M7 is closed as all traffic has to come through the town centre and HGVs are coming through the town.
Managing traffic flow would allow for reduced speed limits in the town centre and help pedestrians and cyclists, he said.
“What primarily interests us is the survival of our businesses,” said Peter Ward of Country Choice, pointing out that the plan did not take business into account. “What is missing is the enhancement of the economy of the town to guarantee the viability of the town centre.”
He said that what was needed was for the planners to find a way to enable heavy traffic to come through the town and not passed it.
Mr Ward complimented Mr Donovan on the plan, and said he may eventually end up agreeing to some of its proposals. “You have given us something to think about,” he said.
He pointed out the plan was based to a large extent on Westport in County Mayo, and asked if the success of its town centre was due to it having one-hour free parking.
Other traders said people would not want to drive “all around town” under a one-way system, but Mr Donovan said Nenagh was compact enough to allow for one-way streets.
He also said people would come to Nenagh more if the town was easier to get around, and pointed to the long queues of traffic caused by the town’s only traffic lights.
Another trader said the plan might “look good on paper”, but feared it was “anti-business”.
Mr Donovan said that while it was was not a business study, they did take business into account. “Without business there would be no traffic.”
Rosemary Joyce, Nenagh district administrator, said the council would be holding a town centre forum to deal with the retail aspect.
One speaker from the floor, who was not a trader, said: “It is up to people to market the town well. I would love to see Pearse Street pedestrianised with markets on a Saturday. We need a broader vision to see what the town needs. Its potential has a better chance of being realised under this plan.”
Among the other suggestions in the plan is for a set down area for the CBS with pedestrian access from the military barracks to the school.
Mr Donovan told the meeting that the plan could be trialled immediately after the consultation process had taken place as it would simply be a matter of turning off the lights at Kenyon Street / Pearse Street.