By BRIAN MOORE
WITH Castletownbere now recognised as the busiest fishing port in Ireland, the current traffic congestion in the town is being examined as part of a Cork County Council transport study.
The transport study, which has been underway in the town over the last months, is now ready for the first of the public consultation meetings later this month.
‘This study is now critical for the town. Castletownbere has now surpassed Killybegs when it comes to fish landed, and to the number of vessels engaged,’ Cllr Pat Gerard Murphy (FF) told the West division meeting of Cork County Council this week. ‘The town is now the largest fishing port in Ireland and with this the amount of commercial traffic has increased to levels that have not been experienced before,’ he said.
The Council have commissioned infrastructure consultants AECOM to undertake and publish a transport study to include, not only the needs of the commercial traffic in Castletownbere, but also the concerns of the local residents when it comes to parking, walking, cycling and road safety.
‘Traffic surveys have been underway for a while now,’ said Eoin O’Mahony of AECOM. ‘This has allowed us to build up a picture of how the town functions. We can now produce a traffic simulation presentation, which we will be able to demonstrate at the upcoming public consultations. The pressures on the transport network in the town have increased due to the expansion of the fishing industry and the numbers of HGV trucks now operating in the area. Added to this local traffic, as well as the increase in the numbers of tourists travelling the Wild Atlantic Way. This study’s main purpose is to develop a plan for the future transport needs of the town,’ Mr O’Mahony said.
Cllr Paul Hayes(SF) welcomed the transport study and encouraged the residents of Castletownbere to have their say at the upcoming public consultation. ‘Over €100m worth of fish was landed in Castletownbere last year and this transport study is now badly needed. We have to be able to plan for the future of the town both in terms of developing the fishing industry and also providing for the local residents and those living in the surrounding area,’ Cllr Hayes said. While also welcoming the transport study, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said that the character of the well-known fishing town must not be lost. ‘The town has major issues when it comes to traffic congestion and while I welcome this transport study, we have to ensure that we maintain the heart and core of Castletownbere,’ Cllr O’Sullivan said.
The first public consultation event will take place on Tuesday October 11th between 4pm and 8pm at the Beara Coast Hotel.