Motorists can expect major changes in traffic direction around Wexford town in the next week as the Municipal District Council trials a new plan to designed to improve traffic flow.
The plan was unveiled by Borough Engineer Sean Kavanagh at a local authority meeting and was generally welcomed by councillors who said it seeks to address some of the problems they have alreadyhighlighted.
A zebra crossing is to be erected in the Bullring, giving priority to pedestrians over cars which currently enjoy a freeway in the area.
Rowe Street will be closed at the junction with Main Street to coincide with pedestrian times in the area which are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, starting in the week beginning September 30.
At the same time, Monck Street will be closed at its junction with the Main Street during the same hours.
Traffic travelling down Henrietta Street will no longer be able to turn right onto Crescent Quay and there will also be no right turn into Cinema Lane from Crescent Quay.
Two coach set down spaces are to be provided at Redmond Road and one at Trinity Street from October 11.
Disabled parking spaces are to be increased in October with the addition of one in Selskar Street (oppsite Selskar Book Shop), an additional space in Common Quay Street (opposite the Bank of Ireland), two in Crescent Quay carpark, two in South Main Street and an extra one as part of the Crescent works.
Age friendly car parking (couresy spaces similar to family parking) is also being provided- two spaces in Wellington Place car park, two in High Street car park, two in Bride Street car park while four in Paul Quay car park which are currently reserved for disabled parking, are to be changed to age-friendly.
In relation to the trial proposal to disallow traffic from Rowe Street travelling through Church Lane and Key West by Pettitt's SuperValu, Mr. Kavanagh said said a review showed that the majority of traffic in that area is through traffic with people using it as a 'rat run' onto the quays.
'We believe it will improve safety on the Main Street and into Church Lane which is a conflict zone (between traffic and traffic and pedestrians) during business hours'.
The removal of the right turn from Henrietta Street onto the quay and the right turn into Cinema Lane is to keep traffic moving along the quays.
In relation to the Bullring zebra crossing, he said the proposal is to give pedestrians 'a guaranteed right of way over vehicles - at the moment vehicles have priority over pedestrians'.
The Borough Engineer said the traffic plan will be put in place on a trial basis and businesses and local residents closely affected by the changes, will be informed in advance.
The Mayor of Wexford Cllr. George Lawlor said it was good to see many of the issues raised by councillors being addressed in the changes.
'It should be pointed out that we are trialling this. It won't become a permanent fixture until we decide that it should be part of the traffic by-laws', he said.
'We will see if the flow of traffic improves. I would like to thank Sean for addressing many of the issues raised in this chamber'.
Cllr. David Hynes said he would have his doubts about removing the right turn from Henrietta Street.
Cllr. Leonard Kelly stressed the importance of communicating the changes to the public to 'avoid mayhem in the first couple of days'.
He added that the Council should be looking at ways of encouraging people not to bring their cars into the town centre.
District Manager Angela Laffan said the Council is relying on the private sector to provide park and ride facilities and the town now has a very good local transport service which is very welcome.
Cllr. John Hegarty asked how long the trial period will be and how will the public response be guaged. He suggested that an email address be set up that people could write to.
Mr. Kavanagh said the Council envisaged a trial period of four to six weeks.
He confirmed that Rowe Street will continue to be a two-way street with people driving in and reversing out and people are asked to leave their cars facing up the hill so that they an drive out easily in the evening.
Cllr. Maura Bell welcomed the provision of coach parking and reminded officials that this is a quiet time of year for coaches and to take that into account.
Cllr. Garry Laffan said the local authority should stick to the proposal to remove the right turn into Cinema Lane from the quay even if it comes under pressure to restore it.
On the Monck Street proposal, he said there is no way people can do a three-point turn there and motorists should receive advance warning of the closure on the quay side before they enter the street.