First traffic-free plaza trial at Dublin’s College Green begins today

Cars, buses, taxis to be banned from junction of George’s Street to College Green

Cars, buses and taxis are banned from the junction of George’s Street to College Green for the first of three trial runs to test out plans for a civic plaza.

 

Dublin’s College Green will be given over to pedestrians and cyclists today in the first trial run of the traffic-free civic plaza since its rejection last year by An Bord Pleanála.

More than 20 bus routes will be diverted from the area to facilitate a range of family activities, including outdoor art classes organised by the Hugh Lane Gallery. Cars and taxis will also be banned from the junction of George’s Street to College Green.

The board last November refused permission for Dublin City Council’s €10 million plaza scheme due to concerns about the “significantly negative impacts” it would have on bus transport, and traffic in the city. The plaza plan would have seen a ban on all traffic, including buses and taxis, from accessing Dame Street through College Green.

The council plans to submit a fresh application to the board later this year, but has decided to close College Green to all traffic today and for the next two Sundays between 7am and 7pm, to test out the popularity of the plaza and iron out any logistical difficulties.

Southbound buses which normally traverse College Green to head west on Dame Street will be diverted down Westmoreland Street and onto the south quays. Northbound buses will be diverted through the Christchurch area and down Winetavern Street to the north quays, a plan which Dublin Bus had described at “socially regressive” when the council made its last application for the plaza.

Motorists heading east on Dame Street towards College Green, will be directed to take a right turn onto George’s Street, a manoeuvre which has been illegal for many years. Some buses will also use this right hand turn to reach the south of the city.

The taxi ranks at Foster’s Place and at College Green will be closed, but a temporary extended taxi rank will be available on D’Olier Street. The Luas will operate normally.

College Green in Dublin city centre has been closed to traffic today and converted into a plaza. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
College Green in Dublin city centre has been closed to traffic today and converted into a plaza. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times
Last November An Bord Pleanála refused permission for Dublin City Council’s €10 million plaza scheme due to concerns about the ‘significantly negative impacts’ it would have on bus transport, and traffic in the city. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Last November An Bord Pleanála refused permission for Dublin City Council’s €10 million plaza scheme due to concerns about the ‘significantly negative impacts’ it would have on bus transport, and traffic in the city. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

A temporary two-way cycle lane will be in operation on the southern side of College Green for the day. This cycle lane was part of the council’s plans for the plaza when it applied to the board in May 2017.

Art classes

The council’s head of traffic management Brendan O’Brien has said the council is not planning to redesign the plaza when it makes its new submission to the board, but will instead provide more information on the traffic and transport implications of the scheme, particularly in relation to buses.

Today artists from the gallery will hold sketching and drawing classes in College Green at noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm with no booking required and all material supplied. The event will also feature interactive street art, 3D pavement illusions and face-painters.

On July 28th, the area will play host to a science-based event called Explore and Create including a range of science and technology attractions from the past, present and potential future with the opportunity to participate in interactive workshops.

The first week of August is International Clown Week and to celebrate, the final event on August 4th will be a “city carnival”. In addition to performances from a number of individual artists and groups, there will be an antique carousel, while face-painters, stilt-walkers, jugglers and mime artists will host workshops to give families the chance to try out some basic circus skills.

Business group Dublin Chamber has welcomed the plaza trial. “We put the idea out to our members and about three quarter thought the trial was a good idea,” head of communications Graeme McQueen said. “It’s a good move and hopefully it will educate the process and educate the next stage of the plaza.”