LIMERICK, DUNGARVAN AND WESTPORT TO BENEFIT FROM €23 MILLION INVESTMENT PACKAGE
Public & Commuter Transport Minister, Alan Kelly, has today announced the results of a major new sustainable transport investment programme – the Smarter Travel Demonstration Areas.
Limerick City, Dungarvan and Westport have officially become Ireland’s Smarter Travel Demonstration Areas 2012-2016 representing a city area, medium-sized town and small town.
The three areas will see a combined investment €23 million over the next five years that will encourage a behavioural switch to more sustainable forms of transport.
“These three places will become pioneering towns for sustainable transport in Ireland. Limerick, Dungarvan and Westport will be among the most innovative leaders in Ireland in terms of transport policy and investment,” stated Minister Kelly.
“The three areas submitted excellent proposals for transforming people’s travel behaviour, with support from local businesses and communities. The governments’ investment in Smarter Travel Areas will reshape and transform these areas, reducing congestion and pollution, improving road safety, creating local employment opportunities, and improving people’s health and fitness, as well as enhancing town and streetscapes locally.
Smarter Travel Areas is a €23 million investment programme pioneering initiatives to look at different approaches to transport and spatial planning to encourage people out of their cars.
A competition for investment was initiated in 2009 with local authorities invited to submit bids to become Ireland’s first Smarter Travel Demonstration Areas.
Limerick will see €9 million invested over the period with a further €7.2m for Dungarvan and €5 million going to Westport.
In broad terms, the funding will be spent on:
• Improved cycling ways, including safe routes to school and to key business and workplace zones;
• Secure cycle parking in town centres or at public transport nodes;
• Better walking facilities, including pedestrianisation;
• Lower speed limits in residential and town centre areas;
• School and workplace travel planning
• Car clubs
“These were high quality bids with very strong community, business and public support in these areas,” stated Minister Kelly.
“The evidence we collect from the three areas will inform our policy development of initiatives to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions and switch to healthier and more sustainable transport. Building on learning from other international investment programmes, we will see Limerick, Dungarvan and Westport take the lead in terms of sustainable travel in Ireland and will hopefully be able to show to other areas how to encourage people out of cars and reduce our carbon footprint,” added Minister Kelly.
Under the National Competition for Smarter Travel Areas, 39 initial applications were received from Local Authorities. 11 of these proposals were shortlisted – Cork City, Drimnagh, Dundalk, Dungarvan, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, Loughrea, Navan, Sandyford, and Westport.
The shortlisted Areas were asked to submit detailed bids and business cases for government investment for consideration by a selection panel, involving representatives from DTTAS, DEHLG and an independent expert in sustainable travel. At the competition launch in 2009, the intended programme expenditure was €50 million over 5 years, but in the current economic climate, this has been reduced to €23 million.
Minister Kelly added: “The shortlisted applications were of high quality and the competition as keen. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to all the shortlisted authorities. I was most impressed with their applications and with their effort and commitment. Given the current financial situation in Ireland, it was inevitable that only a small number could be funded, but I hope that the understandable disappointment will not deter their efforts to
build on the ambitions which they developed for their areas and which they may be able to progress over time outside the competition”
Although the very high quality bid submitted by Galway city and county was highly regarded and ranked second by the selection committee the scale of the bid at €22 million and the reduction of the programme's budget to half of what was originally proposed would have precluded investment in any other areas.
However Galway will be benefit from between €20-25 million in transport investment over the next five years through the regional cities programme and will be treated as a major priority for transport investment.
The excellent Limerick proposal (ranked 1st) will provide information and learning from the delivery of smarter travel measures in a city context. Dungarvan and Westport, which came third and fourth overall in the competition, will provide additional information on the application of smarter travel measures in a medium-sized town and a small town. Despite a reduction in scale, the selection of these areas ensures a fundamental objective of the programme is met, i.e. the capacity of the Areas selected to act as examples for other cities
and towns around Ireland remains.
For further information contact Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport on 01-604 1087/1090