In a grim twist of irony, Waterford’s Metropolitan District Council debated the proposed restriction of heavy vehicles from the city centre last Monday night – just hours before the tragic death of toddler Daenerys Crosbie after being hit by a truck on Manor Street on Tuesday morning.
Senior Engineer Niall O’Kane had brought a number of proposals before the meeting which would restrict HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) from the city at certain times of day “in order to make the city a more attractive and pleasant place to visit and live”.
The meeting heard that over 9,000 HGVs cross Rice Bridge each month, an average of 324 every week day, with 275 of these travelling between 7am and 7pm.
The Council wishes to restrict five axle vehicles between 11am and 7pm, thus reducing the requirement to obtain permits to deliver in the city centre.
Amongst the proposals being examined by Council is a ban on five-axle vehicles between 7am and 7pm – similar to Dublin – with the possibility of the local authority selling delivery permits at a cost of €10 per day for trucks who need to access the city centre during these hours.
The preferred option of the Council, the meeting heard, is a restriction of five axle vehicles between 11am to 7pm, which would allow deliveries to be made in the city up to 11am and reduce the requirement to obtain permits to deliver in the city centre.
Enforcing the new system would be a matter for the Gardaí and consultation is currently ongoing with them regarding the proposed implementation.
Cllr John Hearne (SF) said he had serious concerns about the proposals, adding that he felt the idea behind recent roadworks on the quay was to prohibit trucks from using it and this new proposal was an attempt to force the trucks onto the toll bridge.
Cllr Hearne noted that a lot of truck companies were based in Waterford and suggested this plan was an attempt to make another revenue stream for the city and drive up the cost of doing business in Waterford. “This needs a lot more thought,” he concluded.
Cllr John Cummins (FG) said the Council should not apologise for wanting to restrict HGVs in the city centre and suggested a pilot period for the proposal. A delivery time of 7am to 11am was very reasonable, he said.
“Trucks who have no business in the city have no business travelling through it,” Cllr Cummins added.
Cllr Eamon Quinlan (FF) agreed that there was a perception that the works on the quay were a bid to force hauliers to use the toll but said all types of commerce should be encouraged in the city.
Mr O’Kane said a number of alternatives to the toll road were open to trucks, including via the Fiddown bridge
However Cllr Pat Fitzgerald (SF) queried whether Fiddown Bridge was capable of taking the weight of those trucks on a daily basis.
He said most haulage contractors were already put to the pin of their collar trying to earn a living, with huge overheads and expressed concern about creating a siege mentality by denying them access to the city.
Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF) said he had reservations about the proposal because there were certain areas of the city where deliveries were needed during the day.
On the suggestion of Cllr Davy Daniels (Ind), the proposals were referred to the Council’s roads SPC for further discussion.
Cllr Daniels said he was worried that, in adopting the proposal, the Council would be creating rat runs all over the city by bringing heavy vehicles onto narrow streets.
Deputy CE of the Council Lar Power said there were “no games at play” in the reduction from four lanes to two on the Quay. He added that this proposal was about trucks which have no business in the city at certain times of the day.