Photo by Caroline McNally

Business owners on Parliament Street are fighting the proposed rerouting of bus routes through their street, which they say would ruin it.

The potential reroutings are meant to accommodate the planned plazification of College Green, which would cut Dame Street off from Westmoreland and D’Olier streets, blocking a major artery for bus routes through the city centre.

According to reports commissioned by the businesses on Parliament Street, the number of buses traversing the street daily would rise by 1,853 percent, from 85 per day to an estimated 1,660 per day.

Tattoo artists could not operate due to vibrations, solicitors could not concentrate, residents claim.

“I would see people looking for new offices, and possibly some of the buildings actually becoming empty” due to the proposals, says Karen Hanratty of Pixel Design, which is based on Parliament Street.

The College Green proposals, which were open for public consultation until 24 May, were the subject of over 2,000 public submissions, which are being considered before a report is presented to the council’s transportation committee on 28 June.

The Parliament Street business owners made some of those submissions, referring mainly to the fact that, instead of four bus routes going along the street as at present, 19 routes will use the street if the College Green proposals are implemented as is. And the street will be changed from a one-way bus corridor to a two-way bus corridor.

Aside from the effect they claim this change will have on congestion on the street, the business-owners are concerned about the levels of noise, air pollution, and the potential for architectural damage that they say increased bus flow will bring to the area.

The opposition came about in part through a number of solicitors who operate on the street, including Tony Hanahoe of M.E. Hanahoe Solicitors, and Larry Brennan of Arthur McClean Solicitors. They commissioned three reports to be carried out by consultancies, investigating the effect of the changes on traffic, air quality, and architectural integrity.

On foot of these reports, many of those who live and work on the street signed a petition and submitted to the council. Individual residents subsequently also filed their own submissions.

At present, only the 69, the 69X, the 79, and the 79a travel along Parliament Street, heading south towards City Hall.

According to the report from consultancy Transport Insights, these four routes mean that buses drive down the street 85 times in a given day, including nine times during the 8 am to 10 am rush hour.

Under the proposed changes, cars and motorbikes would be banned from the street, and the number of bus routes would increase from four to 19.

This would include frequent routes such as the 9, 13, 16, and 123. Northbound, they would travel along Parliament Street before turning along the north quays and up O’Connell Street. The same 19 routes would travel southbound along the street, all coming via the quays, mainly from the east.

The street used to be two-way, and has in recent decades had its footpath widened and public realm improved. A spokesperson for the city council said that “it is not intended to change these alignments”.

Furthermore, the press office spokesperson said that the proposed changes would minimise the journey disruption to current bus routes, and that road safety for all road users will be best served by the suggested alignments.

However, the reports commissioned by the Parliament Street business community, and their subsequent submissions to the council, outline a series of serious concerns.

An architectural report by architect Des McMahon said that the street is “at the centre of a finely balanced urban ecology”, which the new layout will threaten, while the 18th-century buildings on the street will suffer damage from the vibrations caused by more bus journeys.

A report by Dr Imelda Shanahan of TMS Environment Ltd found that the impact on the street’s air quality would be “profound and permanent and a substantial impact is predicted”, alongside a “major adverse noise impact”.

The transport study by the Transport Insights consultancy meanwhile, stated that operating the junction would be tricky, as there is too little space at the Dame Street end to allow two buses to use it at the same time.

Both this report and the residents comment on the increased difficulty of deliveries being made on the street, as the changes might necessitate the removal of one of the street’s loading bays.

“We won’t be able to open our windows because of the noise and the pollution,” says Hanratty.

Still, she says that her own business is a bit sheltered from some of the noise and pollution that may afflict the ground floor: restaurants and shops will feel an impact, she said.

Paul Keville of Aperativo, a restaurant which opened last November on the street, says the traffic changes would be a disaster. “It will without a doubt destroy the business,” he says.

Even at present, says Keville, the noise and vibrations from individual buses cause problems on the street, problems that will be exacerbated by the proposals.

Says Larry Brennan, a solicitor with McClean’s, which operates on the street: “It’s all very well to say, ‘Not in my back yard’, but at least you should try and find out what it means.”

Submissions on the College Green plan are currently being reviewed, and will be presented to the city council’s Transportation Strategic Policy Committee on 29 June.

In the meantime, residents have set up a Facebook page and aim to get the word out, because, as Keville says, for now, “a lot of people don’t know about it”.

Cathal Kavanagh is currently a student at Trinity College Dublin. He has writen for a number of publications around Dublin, including GoldenPlec and H&G.

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