Portlaoise Main Street
Road and footpath improvements are ready to start in Portlaoise once the Level 5 lockdown is eased.
However there are concerns that the public and traders might not welcome the disruption.
The works are expected to take up to 12 weeks, Laois County Council has said. They include the resurfacing of Bull Lane, a pedestrian crossing to it from Hynds Square, and improvement of paths around the Fort Protector, all to improve the town for pedestrians of all abilities.
There will be road closures on Bull Lane, Hynds Square and Main Street on a phased basis.
It is expected to start within days of the expected relaxing of Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions on March 5. The council aims to get the works started and finished as quickly as possible ahead of wider shops and businesses reopening in the coming months.
However Cllr Willie Aird predicts problems ahead.
"Could we virtually meet Downtown Portlaoise, I am conscious that if the town is starting to reopen, people will say why didn't you do this during the closedown. I know we have secured the funding for this, I want to ensure there is no negative impact," he said.
He was speaking at the online monthly meeting of Portlaoise Municipal District this Wednesday February 17.
The council's Town Manager for Portlaoise said they are in regular contact with the traders group.
"There will be further meetings. The works are somewhat intrusive, they will give rise to local inconveniences. But as they say, the disruption will be temporary, but the improvements will be permanent," he said.
"It will take 10 to 12 weeks to complete. It is a priority to get started and get in as soon as possible, if it conforms with the guidelines," he said.
"I see problems, that's all," answered Cllr Aird.
Cllr Noel Tuohy expressed faith in the public's understanding that the work was not allowed during the lockdown.
"People will understand that we are also dictated to by the Government, which is the way it should be. Our road workers have rights to safety too," he said.
"It is great to see the work start when the town is quieter, the sooner the better it is done," added Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald.
The council has issued a notice of the road closures online. It says that pedestrian access for residents and businesses will be accommodated. Diversions will be clearly signposted. The footpath on one side of Bull lane will remain open for pedestrian access.