It’s one of Cork’s most characterful streets.
Now MacCurtain Street, in the historic city centre, is in line for a long-awaited revival that will transform the entire neighbourhood into a lively theatre and hospitality district.
It’s all part of the MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme, a plan to create a more sustainable transport system in the city.
Based on plans from Cork City Council and supported by the National Transport Authority, the Scheme includes greatly improved options for walking, cycling and public transport in the city centre and substantial public renewal in MacCurtain Street and some of the surrounding quays and streets.
What can we expect?
The reorganisation of traffic flows and a two-way traffic system will significantly reduce traffic volumes and speed on MacCurtain Street.
Wider footpaths, fresh new planting and improved public lighting will help transform the area into a relaxed and welcoming new environment that will help entice visitors and help local businesses to thrive.
Better for walkers
The scheme will deliver extensive improvements for pedestrians, significantly reducing traffic volumes on MacCurtain Street and widening footpaths as the street transitions from a one-way traffic route to a visitor destination.
Pedestrian crossings and public lighting will all be upgraded across the entire scheme. Importantly, safer walking and cycling routes will be created for school students, a particular priority, given the high concentration of schools in the area.
Better for cyclists
Cycling facilities are to be improved considerably under the scheme with two-way segregated cycle connectivity along St. Patrick’s Quay and Camden Quay and two-way segregated cycle tracks on Merchants Quay and across Christy Ring Bridge as well as new cycleways on Leitrim Street.
These facilities will provide better connections to existing cycleways at Popes Quay and Penrose Quay as well as Mary Elmes Bridge and the City centre.
The proposed new segregated two-way cycle routes will complement the improvements delivered under previous projects and provide the connectivity needed to link to other planned cycling infrastructure including Horgan’s Quay, South Mall, Docklands and further afield.
The existing public bike stations will be retained but will be realigned to better suit the new street layout. Additional bike parking will be provided at key locations throughout the area.
Better for Public Transport users
The improved public transport corridors set out in the scheme will reduce journey times and enhance bus service reliability. New bus lanes are to be provided along a number of streets including Leitrim St, Cathedral Walk, Coburg St. Devonshire St. Bridge St. and St Patricks Bridge.
Reduced traffic volumes will improve public transport movement along Coburg MacCurtain St towards Kent Station and the City Centre. There will also be a reorganisation of coach parking, all fully compatible with the forthcoming Cork Bus Connects Programme.
A city rising (and growing)
According to the National Planning Framework 2040, Cork will become the fastest growing city region in Ireland with a projected 50% to 60% increase in its population in the coming 20 years.
Noreen Gannon, Chairperson of the Victorian Quarter Traders Association says that the pandemic has shown us the value of human connection and the simple pleasures in life.
“The future plans for the Victorian Quarter will lend itself very much to the focus on these new priorities, where reconnection face to face for both customers and business alike will come to the forefront,” said Ms Gannon.
“While we may have been apprehensive about the new traffic management system for our area, I am now convinced by the exceptional planning and support received through Cork City Council that this new venture will be a welcome addition to the Victorian Quarter.
“The businesses in the area are hugely appreciative of the support received, which allowed a hugely collaborative project to come to fruition. All of us in the area are always willing to embrace change and this further adaptation has cemented the importance of communication and collaboration for an area such as the Victorian Quarter. “In it together” has never been such an adage to live by.”
10,000 new city workers within five years
The city’s population is set to grow to over a half a million people in the coming years, fuelled by the extension of the existing city boundary but also by the influx of new workers – as many as 10,000 within five years – who will be employed in the city centre on projects that are underway or planned.
“The changes which are being undertaken in the city centre at present as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic give a sense of a future “look and feel” to the city which appears to resonate well with the public,” said Gerry O’Beirne, Director of Infrastructure Development.
“There is no doubt that the city has to be “re-imagined” and that the status quo can no longer apply.”
MacCurtain Street publican Philip Gillivan, owner of the Shelbourne Bar agrees:
“As a business owner who has traded on McCurtain Street for the past 24 years, I am thrilled to see the Public Transport scheme being published,” he said.
“MacCurtain Street and the wider Victorian Quarter has always attracted an eclectic mix of business and customers. These improvements will add to the already vibrant night-time economy.
“Visitors and locals want fewer cars on our streets and more options for walking, cycling, alfresco dining and less pollution and noise. The improvements will take up to 70% of the through traffic from the MacCurtain Street area and this is to be welcomed. As the City moves forward the message is clear from the consumers is that they want a better quality of experience in our city centre and in my opinion, this Scheme is very welcome.” Mr Gillivan added.
The MacCurtain Street Scheme is the latest phase of works to be progressed as part of the City Centre Movement Strategy (CCMS). The proposals are now out to formal public consultation under the Part 8 Planning process. You can make your views known from 9am on Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 through: https://consult.corkcity.ie/en
Brought to you by Cork City Council.