An agreement in principle has been reached between Westmeath County Council and CIE concerning the purchase of the Railway Field.
Councillors were informed at Monday’s (April 3 ) meeting of the Athlone Municipal District by director of services, Barry Kehoe, that the long-running saga could be coming to a close in the near future.
The agreement includes the installation of the so-called Railway Field Road from the Crescent Junction in the direction of St Vincent’s Care Centre.
Gaining ownership over the piece of land is considered crucial by the council for the future development of Athlone.
Once constructed, and in order to satisfy the requirements of CIE, only buses will have access to and from the Southern Station Road from the St Vincent’s side.
However, the current means of accessing the station from the Crescent Junction side will not change for other vehicles.
Mayor of Athlone, John Dolan, praised the work undertaken by Mr Kehoe in the last number of months in pushing the issue to its current stage.
Fine Gael councillor Tom Farrell welcomed the news, but expressed his hope that the alterations will not lead to the Crescent Junction becoming a bottleneck.
Mr Kehoe said he did not envisage the Crescent Junction becoming a bottleneck. He said that the junction is currently capable of handling the traffic using it, and that the building of the Railway Field Road will improve this still further.
He told councillors that agreement is still to be reached on the layout of the bus depot and on the cost of the land needed by the council to construct the new road.
Once this is completed a cost evaluation will take place, which will then come before the council for approval.
He added that he is not sure if the current bus strike will interrupt this process.