Paths of progress: High Street overhaul to start next month

The first phase of the €1.6 million overhaul of High Street will begin in the next fortnight, scheduled to take place over an 11-week period until May.

The first phase of the €1.6 million overhaul of High Street will begin in the next fortnight, scheduled to take place over an 11-week period until May.

It will involve new pavement, kerbing and road surfacing from the Patrick Street junction to William Street junction.

The improvement works will also involve a reconfiguration of the junction at ‘The Field’ pub, and the removal of the left-turning slip lane there – although this measure has not met with universal approval.

The works are part of Kilkenny City’s much-vaunted ‘Medieval Mile’ project.

Residents and business people on High Street have been invited to attend an information meeting on the project at 6pm in City Hall this evening (Wednesday). An on-street sample/mock up of the proposed paving design and materials is currently under construction.

Phase two of the scheme, encompassing the area in front of the Tholsel, is to go ahead in September, while the area from there to James’ Street will wait until spring next year.

The final phase – Parliament Street – will commence in autumn 2014, to coincide with the construction of the Central Access Scheme.

Off-peak hours

The scheduling of the works has been arranged so as not to conflict with peak tourist seasons or business hours.

“All work is to take place outside of the main business hours, from 5pm until 1am,” Mr Mulholland told the members.

“A lot of work has already been done in recent months, such as retexturing to add grip to pavements and drainage rehabilitation works.”

Cllr Joe Reidy (FF) said the work was long overdue.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” he said.

“Hopefully, it can now be done with the support of traders.”

But Fine Gael Cllr David Fitzgerald expressed concern over one aspect of the plan.

“This project is long overdue, and most of it is to be welcomed,” he said.

“However, I am surprised and concerned that they are going to remove the left-turning slip on Patrick Street/High Street. It will have an adverse affect on High Street; it will create a queuing problem and restrict access.”

John Mulholland disagreed with this assessment.

“The left filter lane will be such that the transition from Patrick Street to High Street will be a smoother one,” he said.

“It will also leave more room for pedestrians. It is not the objective to make it into a sharp turn.”

The director of services also confirmed that there would be an overhaul of lighting along High Street, with a new system envisaged.

St Mary’s Church

The borough council members were also briefed on the latest developments in the conservation and restoration of St Mary’s Church – another feature of the Medieval Mile project.

Work on the demolition of internal structures built in the 1950s and 1960s will begin in April, in an effort to return the church to its original ‘shell’. At that point, the council can produce a detail design specification for a main contractor.

“A lot of the work done this far has been done underground; it is significant archaeological work,” Mr Mulholland informed the members.

“We have also discovered that the timber in the roof, which dates to at least the 1600s, is in very good condition. So that is good news.”

An application for funding the restoration works is to be made to the south easter region assembly for funding under the LINKS project, sponsored by the EU.

The local authority is also to hold a number of information meetings in the weeks ahead.