Mixed views of €10m plan for central plaza

by Dave O'Connor

DUBLIN City Council’s (DCC) €10m plan to redesign College Green as a pedestrian plaza needs more clarification, according to city councillors.
The plans, which were designed by Dixon Jones/ Paul Keogh Architects as part of a joint initiative between DCC and the National Transport Authority, will see a ban on all private cars around College Green.
Cllr Nial Ring (Ind) told The Gazette that he believes the plan is interesting, but that a lot still
needs to be done. He said: “I am worried that DCC seems to be going headlong into pedestrianisation and increasing cycle lanes without a coherent joinedup approach to all traffic issues.
“We have already seenthe council rowing back on proposals for closing off Eden Quay to cars and coming up with [another option] for the Liffey Cycle route along the quays.
“Unless and until DCC show councillors and the public that there are alternative routes for traffic through the city, then I will not support this plan.”
As part of the new COLLEGE GREEN | SAFETY CONCERNS, IMPACT ON TRAFFIC CITED designs for College Green, a 7,300sq m open space will be constructed for pedestrians to walk around and enjoy the plaza.
A cycle way for cyclists will also be constructed, although how that will work in a pedestrianised area has yet to be confirmed. In terms of public transport, a new turning circle for buses will be built at the western side of the plaza, while taxi ranks that are currently in the College Green area will be relocated to nearby streets.
There will also be twoway traffic routes for taxis and buses, with the new Luas Cross City running in a north-south direction around the front of Trinity College.
Cllr Andrew Keegan (PBP) said he supports the plans, but it depends on how DCC go about it.
Integration He said: “I think there will be teething problems and I am concerned about
how the safety of pedestrian and cyclists will be dealt with, but DCC will, I think, solve these integration problems.
“We need to keep all users of the space safe from each other, and this may or may not be successful. I’m hopeful, but I think we have a problem here.”
The Dublin Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses in Dublin city, agreed and said it is worried about how traffic will move around the city once the new Luas line opens later this year.
The chamber called on DCC to publicly publish details of how the proposed changes will impact on traffic movements in the centre. Graeme McQueen, head of public affairs at the chamber, said: “In principal, the creation of a pedestrian plaza on College Green could be great for the city.
“However, a lot of questions remain about how College Green – and other areas of the city centre – will work in practice once the proposed changes are introduced.
“Crucially, uncertainty remains as to whether the traffic which will be pushed out of College
Green can be accommodated on other, already congested city centre streets.
“The council says it has done modelling work to show what impact the displacement of cars will have. This data should be made publicly available.”
However, Cllr Claire Byrne (GP) said she believes the College Green design works for all users, and welcomed the move to prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and public transport over private motorised traffic.
She said: “This design is all about giving College Green back to the citizens of Dublin, as well as attracting visitors. “I have no doubt that it will become a place for celebrations, protests, markets and major events, and will become once more a civic heart for the city.”
DCC will submit the project to An Bord Pleanala later this month and, subject to planning permission, building works will begin next January. It is estimated that the works will take a year to complete.

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