An association of Church Street Traders opposed to a westward one-way system for Athlone is encouraging the public to have their say before the April 4 deadline for the public consultation process has passed.
The association has been conducting an awareness campaign of late which has included circulating awareness posters, a placard campaign at the Crescent junction, petitions in local shops, engaging a traffic consultant, seeking legal advice, and lobbying of councillors and TDs from the region.
In a statement this week, the association said proposals to regenerate Church Street are welcome but premature.
“The council’s own consultant, Nicholas De Jong, admitted there has been no economic impact study of the effects of this proposal on the town,” the statement reads. “A live run of this proposal in 2008 proved an economic disaster. It drove hard- earned customers to local, easier accessed towns, and loss of income to businesses in Athlone. This proposal will repeat the mistakes of the past.”
The association is questioning why councillors who opposed the east-way system in 2008 are now putting their support behind the current plan.
“The local politicians were aware of the failure in 2008 as is documented by the local papers,” it reads. “Mayor John Dolan, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran and Paul Hogan all were against this exact plan in 2008. There has been no change to the infrastructure in Athlone since then, so why would it work now?
“The liable to flood Ballymahon bridge hasn’t been fixed; the railway field hasn’t been bought and if it is in the future it is questionable as to whether it would improve anything - all traffic will end up at the Crescent.”
The association says that a footfall count of visitors to local midlands towns in 2008 proved that customers chose to go elsewhere rather than get caught in congestion in Athlone.
The deadline for submissions to the public consultation process is Tuesday, April 4, at 4pm.