Drogheda Independent - - FRONT PAGE - by HU­BERT MUR­PHY

MA­JOR changes are on the way to Lay­town and Bettystown with car park­ing im­prove­ments al­lied to planned pay park­ing and a traf­fic light sys­tem un­der the rail­way bridge in Lay­town.

De­tails of the new look for the coastal ar­eas were re­vealed at the Mu­nic­i­pal Dis­trict meet­ing in Duleek.

The main em­pha­sis was on seek­ing a so­lu­tion to the chronic park­ing in Lay­town - which sees the main car park choked with cars all day long, while lo­cal shop­pers have no where to pull in, much to the anger of traders.

As part of a €140,000 plan to help the sit­u­a­tion, en­gi­neers came up with four op­tions for park­ing in the area.

1. Ex­tend the ex­ist­ing car park. It was de­cided this was the best and quick­est op­tion. It will rise to 102 spa­ces, with proper mark­ing and the re­moval of the bot­tle bins.

2. Cre­ate a new car park at the for­mer land­fill/ dump, Cllr Sharon Keogan was very vo­cal in her sup­port of such a move, feel­ing it was a chance missed to solve the whole is­sue. ‘We are putting a sticker plaster’ on the prob­lem,’ she added. She wanted to keep the €140,000 ear­marked and add to it next year to ‘do the job prop­erly’.

‘Res­i­dents and re­tail­ers have their hearts bro­ken with peo­ple park­ing and leaving their cars.’

But it was claimed the EPA served no­tice on the coun­cil some years ago in re­la­tion to the dump and the bill to clean it up would be €1m.

3. On road park­ing op­po­site the old dump site, as presently oc­curs. How­ever, the area will be prop­erly marked to al­low for some park­ing here.

4. The lands west of the sta­tion. These have been un­der dis­cus­sion with the landowner and are seen as a long term so­lu­tion.

En­gi­neers car­ried out a sur­vey of pas­sen­gers last year and found that the train sta­tion car park - that only takes about 14 cars - fills up first of all by 8.30am.

The car park across the road is full by 8.45am and stays full un­til 5.45pm.

The area around the shops also fills around 9am, the same as the verge near the bridge.

In to­tal, they feel there’s a need for 136 spa­ces for com­muters and the present plan is for 155 spa­ces to be cre­ated.

They also found that 70% of peo­ple use a car to get to the sta­tion, with 21% walk­ing and 4 to 5% us­ing a bike or bus.

They also asked com­muters if they’d pay for park­ing in the area with 68% say­ing no, 28% stat­ing they’d pay €10 and 4% say­ing they’d pay €15 to €20 for park­ing.

Cllr Sharon Tolan said she’d like to see a long term plan in place, al­low­ing the present car park to be used by shop­pers and vis­i­tors.

En­gi­neer Pat Shortt said do­ing up the car park means it will be ready to re­vert back to use as an amenity for the area in the fu­ture.

Cathaoir­leach Tom Kelly de­scribed the plan as ‘ hor­rific’ and ‘one of the worst things he had seen’ pre­sented to the coun­cil.

With Ir­ish Rail up­grad­ing the ser­vice to Drogheda, he wanted a long term plan.

He also urged that bus times be co-or­di­nated with train times

It is planned to go ahead with the project this year.

Traf­fic lights are go­ing to be placed at both sides of Lay­town bridge to al­low a foot­path to be con­structed for pedes­tri­ans.

The car park in Lay­town will be prop­erly marked to in­crease the num­ber of spa­ces - but you’ll have to pay to use it.

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