Turn Back Time: HOW times have changed on the streets of Killarney.
Three years after a €50,000 management study was produced to tackle the recurring traffic nightmare, the town is still grappling with chronic congestion on the streets, gridlock on the approach roads and a serious lack of available parking spaces, particularly from May to October.
But these sepia-toned archive snapshots – stills from an RTÉ news report in 1984 – will take those of a certain generation on a journey back to the less frenetic days when parking or congestion wasn’t an issue in the town – even in times of heavy traffic.
Reporter Tom McSweeney visited 35 years ago to report on a plan to rejuvenate the town centre to ensure that it reflected the natural beauty of its surrounds.
And some of the footage from that nostalgic archives report is striking in that not only was parking allowed on both sides of Main Street and all the way along both sides of College Street – lengthways – but vehicles were also permitted to park on one side of Plunkett Street, which is now pedestrianised for much of the year, with traffic allowed to turn right or left at the bottom of the street.
Although the current policy preference for extra wide pavements, island build-outs, traffic junctions and hundreds of bollards might make it a little easier for pedestrians to negotiate their way through the streets, it has done little to address the frustrations of motorists who are faced with heavy congestion on a daily basis and mounting frustration as they are forced to circles the town repeatedly to find a parking space – in peak season – to allow them to go about their business.
The opening of a new 190-space bus and car park at Rock Road – which is progressing at an impressive pace with fabulously restored traditional stone walls – will provide some relief when it opens in May and, after that, the belief is that the only way is up as multi-storey options will be pursued.
That any lessons can learned from the way it was back in 1984 is highly unlikely and every town has to move with the times but, sometimes, if it’s not broken, is there really a need to fix it?
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