The traffic cones and the JCBs are back on College Road, as the council once again begins work on Kilkenny’s most controversial avenue – this time to undo the work carried out at the end of last year.
Workers have set about removing the so-called ‘build-outs’, which narrow the carriageway at certain points on the route and accommodate ESB poles. The build-outs were part of a series of works, including a new cycleway, constructed with funding under the Smarter Travel scheme last November.
However, they proved a critically divisive issue within the borough council. It culminated in an incident in which four councillors walked out of a council meeting in protest at a ‘lack of consultation’ with them regarding the works.
Local residents made numerous complaints to their local representatives, and the incident exposed a clear communication gap between the executive and the elected members.
Director of Services for Kilkenny County Council John Mulholland then agreed to undertake a review of the route in March. The final report recommended a number of revisions to the scheme, including the removal of the build-outs, with the cycleway retained as one-way inbound. It also said that parking on the side of the road opposite the school should no longer be permitted, and instead, there should be an on-road cycleway in the outbound direction.
A central road-island is to be constructed to reduce motorists’ speeds to 50kmph. A crossing point will also be added at St Kieran’s College, while drop-off areas adjacent to St Patrick’s Church and St Kieran’s Church will be enhanced.
The work commenced at the weekend.
Cllr Joe Reidy (FF) yesterday told the Kilkenny People that he would reserve judgment until the work was completely finished, but that it would be an improvement.
“I am delighted that it’s gone – it is a small victory for us,” he said.
“The build-outs served no purpose – it was a case of the plan following the money, rather than the other way. It should be a lesson learned.
“I welcome that they are gone, but it was a costly mistake that shouldn’t have happened if there had been proper consultation.”