Wednesday 15 April 2009

Revamp of Cork market area in doubt after funding cuts

THE revamp of a historic Cork city market area was among several projects in doubt last night after the Government slashed by almost half its funding for city roads.

City council officials received notification by fax yesterday that their 2009 roads budget — which had been estimated last December at e6.9 million — has been cut by e2.7m to just e4.2m.

Decisions on planned road projects made at the council’s budget meeting last December, when the figure was projected to be e6.9m, will have to be reviewed and prioritised.

The city’s regional traffic management fund has been slashed from e790,000 to e90,000.

But the biggest casualty is the e5m Cornmarket Street revamp. A e1m fund set aside this year to advance the project has been slashed to just e41,000.

It is understood that amount had to be sanctioned to cover the costs of design works carried out in recent months.

While city officials are still examining the implications of the overall cuts, several councillors expressed fears that the Cornmarket Street project will be axed.

A design by Spanish architect Beth Gali, who designed the revamped St Patrick’s Street, Oliver Plunkett Street, and Grand Parade, envisaged a new pedestrian-friendly open air market place with covered stalls.

But Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer described the project’s funding cut as a devastating blow to the city. "This is a huge blow to the vitality of the city and the stated aims of the city development plan," he said.

"The Cornmarket development had huge potential to add to the commercial, retail and entertainment venues in the city."

The cuts in roads funding will also affect footpath repairs, estate roads resurfacing and traffic surveys, assessments, bus routes, cycle routes and other measures to encourage people to use sustainable or public transport.

But Fianna Fáil Cllr Tim Brosnan said from his discussions with Coal Quay traders, he thinks they will welcome the fact that the project in its current form has stalled.

Despite the cutbacks, city officials gave assurances last night that a e500,000 upgrade of the St Luke’s junction on the north side of the city will go-ahead, with work due to start on April 20.

Irish Examiner

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