COMMENT: Navan 2030....Will it all be worth it in the end?

Friday, 5th July, 2019 5:36pm

COMMENT: Navan 2030....Will it all be worth it in the end?

Railway Street has closed

There is no doubt that the sight of cones, barriers and diversion signs up at the Mercy Convent roundabout alerting motorists to the closure of Railway Street will cause no small outpouring of anger and gnashing of teeth.

The controversial works that saw €400,000 spent on re-imagining the roundabout outside the Solstice Arts Centre to make it safer and more pedestrian friendly still draws the ire of some drivers who believe the junction should have been left well enough alone and the money spent elsewhere.

The Railway Street closure is, however, just the beginning of many high impact roadwork upheavals over the next couple of years as the National Transport Authority releases €12m to get Navan's traffic and pedestrians moving more smoothly through the town.

This will be the first major phase of the much-maligned Navan 2030 works with the remainder of projects taking place over the next three to four years. This will bring huge changes to the streets and lanes of the town, including bus bays on either side of Kennedy Road, as well as a special ‘Park and Ride’ facility on the Navan-Kells Road.

Railway Street is the first major part of the 'Navan 2030' puzzle to be solved where traffic will eventually be allowed turn right from Brews Hill and partly relieving the pressure on Trimgate Street. In turn Trimgate Street will change to become more pedestrian friendly with wider paths and removal of a small number of parking spaces.

Further on down the town, you only have to wait minutes at Market Square for the arrival of two buses at the same time to see the carnage it creates for traffic coming from Trimgate St and Kennedy Road. Hence, the installation of a bus hub outside the shopping centre and the creation of a park and ride facility on the Navan-Kells road. Traffic flow will also be reversed on Ludlow Street too, allowing traffic pass through Market Square and onto Kennedy Road.

The hope is, that as these links in the chain come together, the people of Navan will see tangible improvements in how their town flows and works and the impact that has on its users and visitors. Smaller aspects of the plan including the pedestrianisation of Old Cornmarket and redesign of Kennedy Place feed into the concept of giving the town back to the people.
Taken singularly, the various phases of Navan 2030 works will be difficult to ignore and difficult to have patience for. Taken collectively, the benefits of transforming the town's road infrastructure and traffic flow can't be denied. It's what happens in the vacuum is the issue. 

Meath County Council has taken the initiative of halving the price of paid parking for the duration of the works and that is to be welcomed but what is equally important is that the information and updates for the public and business community flow as freely as they hope the cars and buses will when all the building works are complete.

Local businesses especially must be in receipt of constant communications around closures and works outside or near their premises. Every effort should be made to ensure that outlets lose no footfall and trade during works and it will be up to the Council and Meath Chamber to see that happen. Our local businesses have worked tirelessly to keep their doors open through recession and downturns. We need them to thrive when Navan 2030 is complete.

*This was the Leader piece in this week's paper.