The proposed realignment of the Kennyswell Road has received a thus-far negative reaction from locals, who are worried they are to lose a key green space in the area, and are concerned that not enough will be done to tackle traffic problems.
Around 30 local residents turned up at Monday night’s meeting of Kilkenny Borough Council to meet public representatives and highlight their concerns on the matter. The group also filled the public gallery in the council chamber, however, they left when they were informed by Mayor Sean O’ hArgain that it was unlikely the relevant notice of motion – number 12 on the agenda – would be dealt with that evening.
The realignment of the road, which has been beset with traffic problems – notably by HGVs, was approved by the local authorities for public consultation over a month ago. At Monday night’s meeting, Cllr David Fitzgerald (FG) asked the mayor to clarify the tenets of the Part 8 process, which he did for the benefit of the residents attending.
Arising from this, the council has now decided to hold a public information evening next Tuesday, November 20. Senior engineer Kieran Fitzgerald wrote to members proposing that a meeting will take place between 7pm-9pm in Meubles/the Arts Office on John Street.
“It appears that a certain amount of misinformation has emerged on the proposals for Kennyswell Road,” the letter begins.
It further says that the realignment is not an attempt to replace the Central Access Scheme, but is an attempt to reduce HGV traffic. However, a number of councillors have said that residents’ concerns are not without foundation.
Green Party councillor Malcolm Noonan has warned of increased traffic chaos on the road if the local authority does not readjust its priorities. He says that the rejection of the Central Access Scheme’s ‘spurs’ by An Bord Pleanala has altered the plan fundamentally, and unless the outer ring road is completed, the road realignment will make no difference.
“This is a residential area, and if people could only see the chaos that is there at certain times of day,” he said.
“If the Central Access Scheme goes ahead without the completion of the northern section of the outer ring road, the traffic will increase exponentially on the Kennyswell Road. That is borne out by all the traffic reports undertaken.There is an attempt to disconnect the issues, but they are very much related.”
But Cllr Joe Reidy (FF) has dismissed Cllr Noonan’s claims as ‘scaremongering’. He says that the residents can weigh up the facts for themselves at the upcoming meeting, and nothing will be forced on them.
“There is a massive amount of scaremongering being done by Cllr Noonan to further his own agenda regarding the Central Access Scheme,” he said.
“The motion he had down had no impact whatsoever on the Kennyswell Road. This is about improving safety on that road, and trying to lessen the amount of HGVs.
“We hope that the meeting will convince residents it is a good scheme, but if it doesn’t, it is unlikely to go ahead. They will have their say.”
On Monday, Mayor Sean O’ hArgain said it would be premature to have the discussion before the public meeting took place.
Representatives of the residents declined to discuss the matter after they left the council chamber. However, Michael McGrath, who was raised in St Teresa’s Terrace, said that a number of them felt they were being sidelined by the developments of the evening.