Newbridge Town Centre
The Christmas lights are atwinkle, the shops are stocked with festive fancies and, for many people, thankfully, there are a few euros back in the pockets after the hard recession years.
Yet many Kildare retailers are being let down during the vital Christmas trading period by the ongoing problems with traffic plaguing the county towns.
Newbridge, in particular, stands out in this regard.
The town is one of the prime spots in the county for shopping, with its busy mix of local retailers and high-street franchises in the centrally-located Whitewater shopping centre.
Indeed, Newbridge has retained a bustling town centre thanks to wise planning decisions in the past not to move its retail offerings to its outskirts.
Yet it would take a precise, military-planned operation and the patience of Job to venture forth into the town on any of the busy shopping days between now and Christmas, thanks to the ongoing problems of traffic within the town. Consumers need to factor in considerable time periods to both get into the shops and get home, thanks to the choked streets. And, unfortunately, walking or biking into town for the big festive shop is not an option for many who need their vehicles to carry home their purchases.
Certainly, necessary roadworks such as those on the Green Road are not helping these matters in the town, but the traffic crisis in Newbridge has been getting worse for years. It has one busy bridge over the Liffey, a plethora of traffic lights and a management system that has been regularly slammed as inadequate for the town. Plus some large housing developments are coming down the line which will only add to the traffic, especially at rush commuter, school and shopping times.
Indeed, at a recent Council meeting, Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy said that people are being deterred from the town due to traffic. It would be such a shame if not being able to cope with its own popularity were to economically hurt Newbridge in the long run.