— Waterford North Quays project is a Pathfinder project, council says.
The top ‘Active Travel’ project in terms of spending in 2022 was the €27m allocation for the enabling works on Waterford’s North Quays site.
The North Quays site is a new development area which will include a relocated railway station but the edges of the site will be dominated by walking and cycling unfriendly roads
As outlined in another article published today, the funding allocated by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to councils under the header of ‘Active Travel’ actually includes more than just walking and cycling projects.
This situation is due to be phased out last year, but it seems that the walking and cycling budget will continue to fund the active travel elements of roads, bus and housing projects.
But while the ‘Active Travel’ header is still a rebrand of what was called the ‘Sustainable Transport Management Grants’ (STMG), that fund rarely included large-scale public transport projects.
When IrishCycle.com first asked the NTA about the high level of funding for the North Quays site it was highlighted by the NTA that Waterford North Quays Project funding “relates to the Sustainable Transport Bridge across the River Suir” and that the “NTA is funding the bridge and some enabling works for the bridge”.
Ruth Tapial, a spokesperson for Waterford City and County Council said: “The €27m funding referenced forms part of the overall €70m funding provided by NTA for the North Quays Public Infrastructure Project. The overall level of estimated public infrastructure investment is €207m. The investment relates to the delivery of a new Public Transport Hub for Waterford City, a Sustainable Transport Bridge across the River Suir and associated access infrastructure works.”
“All of these elements support the sustainable and active travel agenda and enable the connection of the Waterford and Kilkenny Greenways through the North Quays Site. The access infrastructure works also delivers a high level of walking and cycling permeability between the Ferrybank area and the city centre which is currently significantly constrained by the rail corridor and the river. The access infrastructure will include five new access bridges across the rail corridor as well as a commuter concourse over the rail tracks as part of the Public Transport Hub,” the spokesperson said.
It is a Pathfinder project
The council also highlighted how the scheme is a Pathfinder project, which was billed by Minister Eamon Ryan as the “most innovative, transformative plans” that councils would put forward.
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Tapial, the spokesperson for Waterford council, said: “This programme forms a key part of the implementation of the National Sustainable Mobility Policy, which sets out the government’s plan to meet Ireland’s requirement to achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 in the transport sector and to transform our cities by reducing car dependency and widening access for active travel and public transport.”
Tapial added: “The Pathfinder Programme specifically identifies the North Quays project as delivering significant enhancement in active travel infrastructure linked with public transport investment in the city, and providing a cycle backbone to the city by completing the link between the city and the extended greenway corridor via the Sustainable Transport Bridge.”
IrishCycle.com covered last year how the North Quays site is car-centric on three of its four sides, with the river on its fourth side.
The only published planning drawings show how the main cycle route through the site includes a convoluted shared ramp up a new bridge across the relocated train station, the cycle route and greenway users will cycle on a footpath-like surface between the entrance to the train station and a combination of bus stops, drop-off points and car parking.
The wide bridge across the river to the city centre is planned to be a shared space bridge with a mix of walking, cycling and some kind of driverless shuttle bus. The tie-in on the city centre side includes expansion paving finishes which will bake in the current layout of non-segregated cycle lanes.
Asked how much of the funding was allocated to the new walking and cycling bridges, a council spokesperson said: “We understand the NTA has provided a response to your query.”
When the NTA was asked a second again, the authority confirmed that the funding was for general enabling workings for the site.
An NTA spokesperson said: “€23,721,500 was claimed by Waterford County Council as part of the consolidated contract for the construction of the new integrated transport hub and sustainable transport bridge as well as enhanced multi-modal access infrastructure.”
They added: “This claim was for payment due under contract, including preliminary costs that cover the entire project such as mobilisation, equipment and materials and immediately followed signing of the contract following Cabinet approval in November 2022.”