Clanbrassil Street works well under way
Despite upheaval traders hold out hope that works will transform town's main thoroughfare
The first indication of how the multi-million euro bid to transform Clanbrassil Street and St. Nicholas Quarter is progressing emerged in recent weeks with new footpaths opening up the town's main street for shoppers and visitors alike.
But the upheaval to traders and businesses along the route hasn't been without impact, as the Argus discovered during a visit to the area this week.
'Well, we are hopeful that this will make the difference to this end of the town,' said Marian Murray, Costcutter.
'We are down about 30% in sales on what we would be on, but with the schools coming back in a few weeks we are hoping it will pick up again.'
The nature of their business has been helped somewhat, she admits, by construction workers coming in and out for lunch and drinks.
'But, yes, we are looking forward to the works being completed and getting back to normal. Hopefully local people will realise that it's not that far to walk down this end of the street!'
The added curiosity of what the new look street will actually be like is one factor traders are hoping will bring people back.
Gerard McEvoy, from McEvoy's store added: 'There can't be progress without some sacrifice, that has to be understood.'
Last week saw his business among a number where access was limited to a walkway at the front door as contractors Craddocks worked on different sections of the footpath.
Indeed no parking or footpaths were available on large sections of one side of the footpath, with pedestrians directed towards a cordoned walkway.
Despite the access issues, McEvoy's were enjoying brisk trade, said Gerard.
'We are actually on par with what we were last year. And it is busy this time of year with the back to school shopping.'
He said that businesspeople along the lower end of the street 'realised that 'something had to be done' to improve the area.
'I guess it's a matter of being patient until we see the finished result.'
A little further along, the Cycle and Trophy Shop, which has been trading for thirty years, have seen a decline a footfall.
'The nature of our business means that access is everything,. Our customers do need to get parked closer to the shop, especially during the summertime when we do a lot of bike repairs,' said owner Eamon Begley.
'We are looking into our busiest part of the year now, September, October, and the run up to Christmas, so we do have concerns as to how the works will impact on business.'
He welcomed the introductions of new businesses to the lower end of the town, including the new ice cream shop, which he added 'saw queues forming outside a shop for the first time in years down here!'
'We can only hope that the works will help when they are finished, and that they will be done by Christmas to give the businesses a chance.'
Most traders we spoke to welcomed the engagement with the contractors, and the regular updates on how the works were progressing.
But one trader, who didn't want to be named was critical of the one way traffic system which they said was directing traffic away from the town centre, only adding to their woes during the construction.
The €5.7million facelift for Clanbrassil Street and St Nicholas' Quarter began in January and is expected to be completed in November, in time for the busy Christmas trading season.
Central to the scheme is the provision of new granite flagstones and kerbs and the widening of the footpath to create an open space with planting and seating between the two churches in the St Nicholas Quarter.
The project will also see the creation of safer pedestrian crossings and the planting of twenty new trees. The CCTV system will be extended in partnership with the Gardai and the town's public wifi infrastructure will also be extended.
The project also sees the installation of new LED energy efficient street lighting and new solar powered parking meters along the streets.
The work has been carried out largely in phases in order to keep disruption to local businesses, pedestrians, vehicular traffic and local residents to the minimum.
But, road and off street closures have bee necessary, with the most recent being Wrightson's Lane which is closed from yesterday (Monday) August 12th for two weeks.
The total cost of the project is €5,721,402, with €2million co-funded by the Irish Government and by the European Regional Development Fund.