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Community ‘not ready’ for children’s hospital impact

Councillor Michael Mulloolly (FF)
photo credit: Megan O’Brien

Communities surrounding the site of the new children’s hospital are going to be significantly impacted in a number of ways due to a lack of sufficient infrastructure in the area.

Issues have already began to crop up and more can be expected including major traffic congestion, parking problems and further increases in rent and home prices.

City Councillor Michael Mullooly (Fianna Fáil) said the area is not prepared for this new hospital. “A lot more needs to be done in terms of transport and infrastructure in the area,” he said.

Parking in the area is already a huge problem according to Mr Mullooly, who explained that the narrow streets throughout the Liberties are now being parked on despite it being prohibited and unsafe. “People are parking up on the pavements and it’s creating problems for ambulances, lorries and even bin trucks. Wheelchairs and buggies can’t get by on the paths.”

He also said there’s an issue with a lack of available parking outside local shops and businesses and as a result there may be a decrease in custom. “People are finding that when they pull out of their parking spot in the morning, there is already someone waiting there to pull in.”

This problem is arising due to the huge volume of construction traffic that needs to access the site and park every day. This is also creating a major traffic congestion issue in the area. Mr Mullooly said this is an issue that “should have been foreseen and prepared for” and that if the issue is significant now, it will be worse when the hospital opens.

The plans for the children’s hospital include an underground car park with 1,000 car park spaces, 675 of which will be specifically for patients and families. However, there are now concerns that this will be enough.

The LUAS stops at St James and the 40,13 and 123 bus routes stop nearby, but the reality is that these services are completely overrun and can’t even meet current demand. Locals report that these public transport services can be so full at rush hour times that “you would have no chance of getting on” and that buses often don’t even stop, “they just keep driving”.

Due to the lack of sufficient public transport, people will opt for driving, meaning locals are facing even heavier congestion in the area which ultimately has a bearing on other things such as rent.

As congestion increases, so do the length of commutes and the cost of accommodation within walking distance to the city centre. Mr Mullooly said “it’s already affecting rent prices, the cost is becoming prohibitive, it was already so high and now its getting worse.”

On top of all this, Mr Mullooly also reports receiving complaints from locals regarding noise and air pollution. According to him, many in the Rialto and Kilmainham areas are finding the noise of the construction very disruptive and the dust in the air is also an issue with some finding they need to clean their windows weekly.

The children’s hospital will be the most significant capital investment project ever undertaken in Ireland and is set to have state of the art facilities in all departments. But this doesn’t come without a price and it’s not just the government that’s going to pay for this one.

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