Businesses fear €10m civic plaza plan could be a traffic nightmare
Business groups fear a proposed €10m civic plaza could bring traffic chaos to Dublin.
The planned College Green development would accommodate 15,000 people but traders are worried it will create further congestion in the city centre.
Dublin City Council will seek planning permission later this month to create the new plaza.
If given the green light, it would result in a complete ban on buses, cars and taxis crossing to and from Dame Street.
The plans would also mean only buses, taxis and the Luas would be allowed travel from Westmoreland Street to Nassau Street when Luas Cross City begins operations later this year. All private cars will be banned and instead forced to detour around the city to travel from the northside to the southside and vice versa.
The body representing Dublin businesses has raised concerns that the plaza will cause knock-on traffic problems.
Graeme McQueen, head of public affairs at Dublin Chamber, said that if traffic issues are not adequately addressed it could stop people coming into the city centre.
"Re-imagining College Green represents an exciting opportunity for Dublin but only if we get it right," he said.
"But, get it wrong and the consequence will be that people won't want to come into the city centre - neither by bus nor by car.
"The council says it has done modelling work to show what impact the displacement of cars will have. This data should be made publicly available."
Dublin City architect Ali Grehan said creating a public space was a "flagship project" for the council and that the area was currently marked by disorder, clutter, buses, traffic and pollution.
"We're completely under-appreciating this key asset," she said, adding the council planned to create a "living room" for the city.
Permission will be sought from An Bord Pleanala in the coming weeks and it will be October at the earliest before a decision is made. The plaza will take up to 18 months to build.
The council said that, if permission was delayed or refused, it would use traffic management powers to ban cars from the area to allow Luas Cross City to move freely through the city.
The public and interested groups including businesses will have six weeks to make submissions to the board, which could also decide to hold a public hearing into the plans.
The plaza could be used for large events including concerts, civic receptions and the St Patrick's Day parade.
A two-way cycle path will be installed on the southside of the plaza opposite the Bank of Ireland and a turning circle for buses put in place beside Foster Place, to allow them to return west on Dame Street.
Taxi ranks currently in the College Green area will be moved to nearby streets and the council also said that additional bike parking would be provided.
Some other traffic changes will also be required, including the introduction of a bus-only left-hand turn from the quays onto Parliament Street, and a right-hand bus-only turn from Dame Street on to South Great George's Street.
A space of 7,300 sq m will be created and eight existing trees replaced with 22 others, along with seating and other street furniture.
Cars will largely be banned, although cash-in-transit vans will be allowed access to Foster Place and Bank of Ireland.
In addition, disabled bank customers and those depositing large sums of cash will be allowed to use the car park at the front of the Bank of Ireland building on College Green.
The council said it was in negotiations with the bank to limit access to the car park to between 10am and 2pm in order to ensure that the plaza would not be impacted by cars during busy periods.
It added that some 625 taxis, 380 buses, 1,000 cyclists, 6,000 pedestrians and 40 trams per hour would use the area.