A business community revolt over plans to shut down one of Clonmel’s main roads for a period of up to four weeks to facilitate flood relief works has resulted in the proposal being scrapped by the Borough Council.
But retailers based along the Davis Road still fear their trade will be devastated next month if the alternative solution chosen by the OPW involves the return of temporary traffic lights to filter traffic around the road works.
They have called on the Office of Public Works to engage in discussions with them to come up with a traffic management plan that will minimise the impact of the Clonmel Flood Relief Scheme pipe laying works on their businesses.
Car dealer George Mordaunt, spokesman for the Davis Road businesses, welcomed the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) by Clonmel Town Clerk Billy Doyle that the Council won’t proceed with the 24 hour, seven day a week closure of the road from the junction of O’Rahilly Ave. to the Silversprings/St Patrick’s Rd Roundabout between Monday, March 28 and April 21.
The Mordaunt Group MD said the Council found the submissions objecting to the blanket road closure to be “compelling” and has now put it back in the lap of the OPW to come up with an alternative traffic management plan.
However, Mr Mordaunt said they did not want the OPW’s alternative solution to be another temporary traffic lights system along the busy road for a longer period of eight to 12 weeks. Businesses along the Davis Road were “devastated” by the traffic light system that was put in place there in January for a period of six weeks as motorists found it difficult to access them due to the traffic congestion, he said.
“We had a disastrous January because that is our busiest period of the year. They put traffic lights right outside our door and made it incredibly difficult to get into us. We had a 40 minutes round trip to go to the bank in O’Connell Street because of the traffic congestion.”
Senior management of The Showgrounds Shopping Centre, Lidl, Dunnes Stores, the Mordaunt Group, Barlo Motors, Sam McCauley Chemist, Comeragh Service Station, Pa Moore Car Sales and Drohans Newsagents all signed the letter of objection submitted to the Council last Thursday.
They pointed out that a complete shut down of the road for so long was a “totally unrealistic” proposition considering the “extremely difficult trading environment” at the moment.
They warned the closure would not only place the livelihoods or their staff at risk but the very future existence of some of their businesses.
Mr Mordaunt revealed that if the Borough Council and OPW pressed ahead with the four week shut down, they were prepared to seek a court injunction to stop it going ahead.
The Davis Road traders intend submitting a letter to the OPW by the end of this week seeking a meeting with its official to discuss and agree a practical alternative.
He hoped the radical proposal to close the road completely for four weeks wasn’t just a ploy to make the OPW’s Plan B more palatable to the traders by scaring them into accepting more traffic lights for eight weeks. The real battle now begins, he added.
Clonmel Chamber, which also objected to the proposed road closure last week, has welcomed the Borough Council’s decision.
Chamber CEO Brian Cleary said it was as a “victory for common sense” and urged the OPW, Clonmel Borough Council and the business community to work together to find an agreement on how the works can be carried out without impacting on businesses.
“We would like to see the flood relief works being completed speedily. However, we feel there are ways of getting these works done without causing catastrophic damage to a large number of well established businesses” he added.
The Chamber has offered to work with all the parties to secure agreement on how the works can be best completed.
In a statement, the OPW said it was advised on Tuesday that the Civil Engineering Contractor’s application to close the Davis Road in Clonmel for the purposes of carrying out pipe laying and associated works relating to the flood relief scheme have not been approved by Clonmel Borough Council due to the objections received locally.
“It is now a matter for the contractor to propose alternative methods of construction, which will include a revised traffic management plan and any such revised traffic management plan will have to be approved by the Borough Council.
“Every effort will be made to progress these works while being mindful of the local business community’s needs and those of other stakeholders,” the statement concluded.