Sinn Féin councillor Paul Hogan has raised concerns about the level of communication associated with the ongoing Church Street project.
Cllr Hogan voiced his concern at the Athlone Municipal District meeting on Tuesday (April 3 ) following the reopening of Church Street to through traffic last week, just a few weeks into a supposed seven-week closure.
The reopening of the street last week was as a result of a cessation of the works due to builders holidays.
Despite meeting with the contractor on March 15, Cllr Hogan said Cradock Ltd failed to inform public representatives that the break in works would be taking place, as did the council executive.
Cllr Hogan described the situation as “embarrassing” for local councillors, who did not have the correct information for concerned local residents and business people when they received calls to clarify the issue.
“We the council, have to be informed, we need to have the information first hand. It’s not fair to the people operating businesses or people using the street and this needs to be addressed,” he said.
Fine Gael councillor John Dolan (FG ) questioned whether there are any more builders holidays scheduled for this year, and how they might effect the current timetable for the overall project.
“I have no problem with them having holidays but we need to know about our own roads,” he commented.
Independent Councillor O’Brien said the situation “was unfortunate, just when people were getting used to the system”, and said lessons must be learned moving forward.
Fianna Fáil councillor Frankie Keena said it was very unfortunate that the builders holiday fell at the same time that schools were off and traffic flow reduced.
Mayor Aengus O’Rourke (FF ) asked whether the contractor could put on an extra shift at night time in order to reduce the duration of the road closure on Church Street.
District manager Pat Keating said he understood councillors concerns but requested patience. He said there may be some detours from the plan during the next number of months, but that the council would do its best to keep everyone fully informed.
Mr Keating added that there are more builders holidays scheduled for August, but that they should not impact the overall time-frame of the project.
In response to Mayor O’Rourke’s query regarding the introduction of night time works, Mr Keating said the contractor informed the executive that such a step could act to reduce the quality of the work undertaken.
He added that local representatives can now attend the weekly liaison meeting in order to avoid a recurrence of last week’s confusion.
Church Street will be closed once again on April 9, but is planned to be re-opened to one-way traffic in early May.