Local business woman and managing director of Burgess department store, Rosie Boles, has raised concerns regarding the prospect of the one-way westward traffic system for Athlone, suggesting the proposal could lead to “chaos” at the Crescent junction.
In a recent survey conducted by Ms Boles among her own client base, 53 per cent of respondents said they come into town via the Coosan and Roscommon roads. If the proposed westward system comes into force, they and those like them will be forced to make the journey to Athlone via the Crescent.
“I think it is really important that people realise what is about to happen,” Ms Boles said. “My worry and the worry that my customers have come to me with is that if the road is going westwards, how are people coming to Athlone’s east side going to get into town? At the moment we have a number of different options. They can come the Roscommon Road past the Barracks, the Castle, the Shannon, and over the bridge.
“They can come in the Coosan exit past the hospital and down Northgate Street; or they can come in the Ballymahon Road, turn right at the Crescent past the station, hospital, and down Northgate Street. None of those options will be available through the proposed westward one-way. So where does all the traffic go?
“Obviously there is the wider route where you can come down Retreat Road, but its ramps do not make it conducive to heavy traffic, or you can come in by AIT. But the main arteries into the town [from the north and the west] are the problem. All traffic will be forced to converge at the Crescent.”
Ms Boles says adding more traffic to the already congested Ballymahon Road will exacerbate the problems there further: “At school time it moves at a snail’s pace and is backed up as far as SuperValu,” she said. “The Railway Bridge on the Ballymahon Road approaching the Crescent floods and can become impassable on occasion, so what happens if that is the case?
“I don’t think people have actually thought it through. I know we have seen the lovely pictures, and Burgess as much as everyone else would like a nice Church Street, but it has to be something that will function and work for the whole town. Why not keep the roads open and keep them taking their fair share of traffic? The way to do that, if it has to be one-way, would be to go eastwards. No roads become redundant on an eastward route.”
Ms Boles is urging the public to get involved in the public consultation process to ensure the best possible outcome for Athlone in its entirety. The plans are on display at Athlone Civic Centre and online at www.westmeathcoco.ie