There are plans for additional greenery and bus shelters.

‘Appetite for change’

Two-way traffic is to return to MacCurtain Street for the first time since 1968.

It’s part of the multi-million euro MacCurtain Street Public Transport Improvement Scheme which promises significant improvements in bus services while providing improved walking and cycling infrastructure along the city’s quays.

The works will take place incrementally over 18 months and will include over 5km of new pathways and public lighting as well as a substantial programme of tree and shrub planting.

The scheme will also deliver road resurfacing and signalised junction upgrades which will facilitate traffic management changes along Anderson’s Quay, Camden Quay, Penrose Quay, Merchants Quay, Patrick’s Quay including Christy Ring Bridge, Lavitt’s Quay, Mulgrave Road, Devonshire Street and Cathedral Walk.

Seán Kelly, CEO of the Everyman Theatre on Mac Curtain Street told the Cork Independent he is very happy with the planned improvements to the infrastructure of what has always been one of Cork city’s major and most beautiful thoroughfares.

He said: “In recent years, the car has been dominant on MacCurtain Street and we in the Everyman welcome the new focus on walking, cycling, and public transport access to the city centre.”

Cork City Council Chief Executive Ann Doherty said: “How people get to and from work and leisure is a key challenge that must be addressed if the city is to function properly and to prosper. A predominant reliance on private car usage is no longer tenable and must be replaced by greater opportunities for walking and cycling and radically improved public transport.”

She continued: “In the coming years, those who live and visit the city will see significant change. As part of the National Development Plan, a fund of €200 million is available to Cork to invest in public transport to improve bus frequency, capacity, journey time and ticketing. Public consultation on the Bus Connect network is already underway.”

Ms Doherty said in the past two years, Cork has led a national conversation on how cities can be reimagined.

She said: “An appetite for change is reflected in the welcome for Cork City Council’s initiatives to vastly improve walking and cycling infrastructure, pedestrianise city centre streets and to facilitate outdoor dining and a ‘greening’ of the city on a scale not previously seen.”

Ms Doherty added: “People want a safer and more pleasant city environment and sustainable development to which the MacCurtain Street project will make a significant contribution.”

The scheme will culminate in the restoration of two-way traffic to MacCurtain Street with transformative public realm works there and in the adjoining Bridge Street and Coburg Street area.

The project is part of a strategic city-wide move to a more sustainable environment in Cork city which is said to be Ireland’s fastest growing city.

Cork city’s footprint after 2019’s boundary extension now additionally encompasses the towns of Ballincollig, Blarney, Tower and Glanmire and the immediate hinterland areas.

The city’s population of 210,000 is projected to grow by 50 per cent over the next 20 years.

According to Ms Doherty Cork’s status as an emerging international city of scale and a national driver of economic growth presents challenges as well as opportunities.

Victorian Quarter (VQ) Chairperson Ciarán O’Connor said despite some inevitable and temporary disruption caused by the works, the benefits of the scheme will be utterly transformative to the area.

He added: “The businesses of the VQ and surrounding areas embrace the progression of the MacCurtain Street scheme, which will be so beneficial to the whole area.

“The benefits in terms of accessibility, transport links and the improvement of public spaces will be transformative for the VQ and its diverse and vibrant community. This is an exciting time to be in Cork and we are delighted to share in the opportunities as our city continues to grow and flourish.”

Cork Business Association (CBA) said it was delighted to see development starting on the McCurtain StreetPublic Transport Improvement Scheme.

“The upgrade will bring enormous benefits not only to businesses on McCurtain St but on all the surrounding streets too such as Bridge St, Coburg St, etc.

“The improvements to transport links and public realm facilities will ultimately attract more footfall to the area, bringing a new vibrancy and excitement to this historic area of Cork, opening it up to enable it to reach its full potential,” said a CBA spokesperson