Anger over 'butchery' of paving in city centre

Mon, Jul 27, 2009, 01:00

DUBLIN CITY Council has been accused of destroying historic and “outstandingly beautiful” granite footpaths around College Green in preparation for today’s introduction of the bus gate scheme.

Graham Hickey, of Dublin Civic Trust, said it was “frustrating to see one of the few oases of sophistication and good craftsmanship in the city centre, that was entirely self-maintaining year round, with a timeless, hard-wearing charm, being so crudely butchered”.

Original granite paving outside the Bank of Ireland had been “gouged out” to insert fawn-coloured stud tiles, hand-cut setts in front of its entrance gates were sliced through with a circular saw and curved Irish granite paving stones had been replaced or infilled with Chinese granite.

Mr Hickey said more respect should have been shown to the “outstandingly beautiful” rust-toned granite setts flanked at either side by historic granite paving, which comprised “the very best modern-day paving composition anywhere in Dublin city centre”.

Instead, it had been “ruined by a quick-fix engineering job”. He also queried how the insertion of “preposterous little scraps of crossing stud tiles” in the pavement could possibly aid the visually impaired. “This is health and safety or mobility correctness gone crazy”.

Mr Hickey noted that, although fawn-coloured tiles had been used outside the Bank of Ireland, the more standard red-coloured tiles had been cut into the granite paving outside Trinity College. This showed that there was “absolutely no co-ordination”.

“You’d think for such a flagship contract, involving the ceremonial and historic heart of the city and encompassing a number of challenging conservation requirements, that a masterplan of some kind would be drawn up”, he said. But this wasn’t done.

Seán Smith, Transport 21 communications manager with Dublin City Council, said the “disability improvements” carried out in College Green were a statutory requirement. “The quality of the work was monitored and checked and we’re satisfied with the finish on it”.

The College Green bus corridor will operate between the hours of 7am to 10am and 4pm to 7pm Monday to Friday, restricting access to public transport vehicles and bicycles.

Coinciding with the introduction of the so-called Bus Gate, Dublin Bus has earmarked a city centre zone from Parnell Square to St Stephen’s Green, and from Connolly Station to Parliament Street where fares will be 50 cent.

Motorists approaching the area from Dame Street will be forced to make a U-turn at the taxi rank outside the Bank of Ireland while those approaching from D’Olier Street will be redirected up Westmoreland Street towards O’Connell Bridge.

Extra gardaí will be at the site this morning and evening. U2 concert-goers are advised to avoid College Green this evening as they make their way to Croke Park.

Motorists who drive through the corridor during peak times face a €60 fine increasing to €90 if not paid within 28 days. Gardaí will exercise “discretion and caution” for the first three days.

The AA has listed alternative routes across the Liffey, which may be useful for concert-goers. They include: East Link, East Wall, Tara St, Winetavern St (Christchurch), Bridge St, Church St Bridge, James Joyce Bridge and St John’s Rd (Heuston Station).

Irish Rail has said it will run additional Dart services after midnight to facilitate U2 fans.