Waterford City Council aims to develop ‘Green Routes’ on the Dunmore Road and N25 (The Quay to Cork Road) during the course of next year.

It also hopes to undertake improvements on the Old Tramore Road, Kilbarry Road and at Ballycashin Hill to provide footpaths, public lighting and cycle paths.

The notification to commence Part VIII planning procedures for both projects was formally brought before Councillors during the first of Waterford City Council’s two November meetings.

“The Green Routes will comprise of a number of measures including bus and cycle priority measures, junction realignment, the redistribution of road space along the Dunmore Road and N25 corridors,” read the literature dispensed to the members. Added new City Manager Michael Walsh on a letter dated October 30th: “These proposals have come through the Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC)…it is proposed to commence these works in 2008.”

The Dunmore Road works propose the following:

* A bus turning area at Island Drive (near Beckett’s Bar and Restaurant) and a proposed new roundabout at Island View

* A bus lane running from Island Drive to the Earls Court/Island Lane junction

* A ‘virtual bus lane’ from the aforementioned junction before the traffic lights at Viewmount and the construction of a new connecting road through the green belt alongside the Ardkeen Roundabout running onto the Outer Ring Road opposite Sandyridge (The ‘virtual lane’ system, operated via on-board bus technology, would ensure priority for buses at traffic lights along routes where a dedicated bus lane gives way to a single lane of traffic.)

* A further bus lane running from the Dunmore Road/Passage Road junction as far as Newtown School, as well as traffic signals and a bus gate at the Newtown junction

* Traffic signals and a pedestrian crossing at the De La Salle College/Waterpark School junction, and

* A cycle track running from Island Drive to the Park Road.

The N25 works would entail:

* A proposed bus lane from Kilbarry Cross Roads to Fitzgerald and O’Reilly Roads

* The provision of traffic signals at the end of this section of bus lane as well as the Cork Road/Tramore Road junction

* A further section of bus lane from the John Street/Parnell Street junction to the Mall

* A bus lane from the Clock Tower to Bridge Street/Rice Bridge junction

* A traffic island at the Merchant’s Quay/Hanover Street junction

* A left turn slip lane off Rice Bridge onto the Quay

* A bus lane running from the Clock Tower to the Millennium Plaza, and

* A cycle track running from Kilbarry Cross Roads to Rice Bridge.

While Councillor Davy Daniels (Independent) argued that what had been brought before the Council did not, in his view, represent a report on the project, he won no agreement from fellow Councillors.

“I don’t call a map a report,” contended Cllr Daniels. “There is no report as such attached here.”

But Cllr Daniels’s protestations gained no favour from the other members who spoke on the matter, with all speakers keen to see the works begin as soon as possible.

“I think it’s quite pedantic to suggest that this isn’t a report,” said Cllr Tom Cunningham (Fine Gael).

“I made it my business to attend the full meeting of the Transport SPC. It is a matter of urgency that we address the issue of traffic congestion on the Dunmore Road as the current volumes of traffic on the road are of great inconvenience to parents and school children.”

He continued: “Bus operators, who are willing to commit millions to an improved level of service, have pleaded with us to do something about this and it’s in everyone’s interest that we do everything we can to take as many cars off the road as we can and to improve our public transport system.”

Transport SPC Chair Cllr Mary Roche was singing from a similar hymn sheet. “We have pored through every square inch of the roads marked on the maps we’re all looking at…and it’s going to involve some areas which are going to have to experience change for the benefit of the community.” Added Cllr Roche: “For the intentions of the greater good, many of us are prepared to make these tough decisions and it’s essential that we do…by implementing these sustainable transport measures, it would put Waterford to the forefront in handling this issue in Ireland.”

Other members, including Mayor Mary O’Halloran (Fine Gael), Joe Kelly and David Cullinane (Sinn Féin) the Labour trio of Pat Hayes, Seamus Ryan and Jack Walsh, along with Hilary Quinlan (Fine Gael) also welcomed the kick-off of the planning process.

“I think this is a no brainer,” was the blunt reaction offered by Cllr Ryan.

Fergus Galvin, the City Council’s Director of Services and Transportation, said he would “happy to facilitate members with a full workshop dealing with the Green Route”.

He added: “Bus operators have committed to increasing the numbers of buses that they will be operating on the routes. We are also in discussions regarding park and ride facilities on both sides of the city.” He also confirmed that taxis will be able to avail of the new bus lanes. The potential expansion of the planned Green Routes into Ferrybank and Belmont was raised by Cllr Davy Walsh (Workers Party), with Mr Galvin committing to take the queries raised by Area One Councillors into consideration.

A public information evening on the new project will also be considered by Mr Galvin’s office.