While the new Longford bypass, which opened to traffic travelling east to west just a couple of weeks ago, has brought much commentary about the noticeable removal of heavy goods vehicles from the town, there is much debate rising about the long-term impact the new road will have on passing trade.
Some business people believe that the impact has not yet been felt, while others say that paid parking has done more damage to business in Longford town.
Stacey Roddy, manager of Cool Beans, which is located along the town’s main thoroughfare, told the Leader that the new bypass was not impacting on business so far and insisted that “business was steady” because plenty of holiday-makers were in the town this month.
“There are a lot of people around Longford town this month because of the holidays, so I have to say that so far business has been good and we are not feeling any impact from the opening of the bypass, certainly at the moment anyway.”
Across the road, Paul Higgins of Unique Boutique pointed to the free flowing traffic on the street, which was known to have been bumper-to-bumper on Fridays with traffic travelling from the east for the weekend.
“I did notice, I have to say, that the weekend Mayo was playing in Croke Park was good for business here, because the Mayo people pulled into Longford before heading onto the game,” he explained. “Lorry drivers are still stopping off in the town for something to eat and the fact of the matter is this town must be seen to be an attractive place to stop-off in, despite the bypass being in place.
“The decrease in heavy traffic in the town is very noticeable and I would be hopeful that the bypass won’t have a negative impact on business in this town. It’s the paid parking that’s causing problems for business, not the bypass.
“Forget the bypass, the paid parking has business in this town destroyed,” the Market Bar’s Kevin McKiernan remarked. “What’s more, another taxi rank has been placed at the front of the bar; now I have a rank on both sides of the pub; it’s ridiculous. People just won’t stop off now and it’s as simple as that.”
Further down the street, Mary McCormack, the manager at Áine’s, also insisted that paid parking is the major issue for businesses in Longford town.
“The paid parking is having way more of a negative impact on business than the bypass will ever have,” she said, adding that the boutique benefited in the past from “good passing trade” and she expected that the passing trade would continue into the future, “regardless of the bypass”.
Rose Flynn, manager of Dublin Street’s Red Rose Cafe, said the bypass was impacting on her business because traditionally the eatery benefited from the passing trade of those en route to Co Mayo.
“The bypass is having a negative impact on business and I notice it particularly at the weekends,” she told the Leader, “but to tell you the truth, it’s the paid parking that is causing all the problems in this town. There is far too many traffic wardens for the size of the town and people are dashing around all the time afraid that they will have tickets on their cars when they return.”
The manager of PV’s, Tom Murray, said he was pleased with the bypass, “If anything it has gotten busier here; the bypass has definitely taken traffic out of the town, but I have to say, so far so good.”