The pedestrianisation pilot of West Street in Drogheda begins this Saturday with Mayor Kevin Callan saying were the trial period to be successful, a more longer term rollout may be on the cards.
The prospect of pedestrianising part of West Street has been discussed since the spring, as Louth County Council considered how they might mitigate against the impact of Covid-19 on retails, whilst also promoting social distancing and responsible physical space between shoppers and the general public.
Councillors on Drogheda unanimously backed a motion by Mayor Callan to progress the scheme in July and last month, the local authority announced the plans to close part of West Street – from Duke Street to the Tholsel building – last month.
West Street will be closed to all vehicular traffic from 11am on Saturday to 10pm on Sunday on the weekends of September 19-20, October 24-26 and a weekend in November. The October weekend will also include the Bank Holiday Monday.
As reported by LouthNow.ie last week, some councillors in the town have aired their concerns over the readiness of Louth County Council to deliver the initiative amid a lack of dialogue with traders and other stakeholders in the town centre.
The impact of the pilot weekends will be measured and monitored by the council, in partnership with the Drogheda BIDs company using multiple, strategically located, footfall counters on West Street.
The council say that 60 of objections and submissions were received ahead of the pilot trial, as part of the public consultation period held as the road is being closed to vehicular traffic for a period.
Based on submissions received, Louth County Council say they have provided additional bus stop facilities, alternative disabled parking bays and ‘click and collect’ parking areas adjacent to the closure area. The bus stops and disabled parking bays will be situated further along West Street, outside of the Mooreland Cafe.
The pedestrianised area will include West Street from the Duke Street and Stockwell Street junction to the Tholsel building. Traffic on the eastern end of West Street, Duke Street and Stockwell Street will flow as normal as will traffic on Peter Street and Shop Street.
“This plan is designed to try to reduce the economic impact of COVID-19 on local business and has public health at its heart. The pedestrianisation of West Street will not only create a safer environment for retailers and their customers, but it has the potential
to transform the centre of Drogheda and how we use our outdoor areas,” Mayor Kevin Callan said.
“If it proves to be successful, it could be something that we look at as a long-term measure for the enjoyment of the people of Drogheda.”
As reported on LouthNow.ie last week, some items earmarked for West Street – including parasols for outdoor dining and parklets – will not be in place for the first weekend of the three-weekend pilot. That lead some public representatives last week to question whether the first weekend will have the required impact on public perception.
The council say the street furnishings, including; parklets which will increase outdoor capacity for cafes and restaurants for alfresco dining, parasols, planters with shrubs and plants, outdoor seating, and artificial grass for an area at St Peters, will be installed on a ‘phased basis’.
All items are due to be in place by the final trial weekend in November.