Church Street in limbo until one - way system decision is made

A one-way system for Athlone is firmly back on the agenda after councillors expressed dismay about the worsening condition of the town’s main streets.

They were told this week that Church Street is unlikely to undergo any major improvements until the streetscape enhancement and one-way system are underway. The one-way system has been on the council’s long finger since it was introduced for a trial period in 2008.

Director of services Barry Kehoe said the possibility of a one-way system for the town would be looked at again as soon as the Railway Field road is completed, though there is no date as yet for when construction of this relief road will start.

“We would propose to have the Railway Field road completed as soon as we can, and then we can look and see if the one-way system is possible, and if not we can look at what is,” he told Monday’s meeting of Athlone Town Council.

The issue arose as Cllr Kieran Molloy expressed dismay that Church Street, the main thoroughfare through Athlone, was “in bad shape”, and called on the council to resurface the street and address the water that is lodging at both of the street’s pedestrian crossings.

However, he was told it is unlikely that resurfacing and other necessary works will be carried out until the completion of the larger streetscape enhancement programme and one-way system which are planned for the town centre. The council cited the “likely costs and traffic disruption involved with such a scheme”.

“In the meantime local resurfacing works will continue to be undertaken as and when required,” they added.

Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne agreed that Church Street is “not looking great for a main thoroughfare”. “In the short term we should make it a little better,” she said.

Director of services Barry Kehoe agreed that the street is in poor condition,

“That’s why we had the original enhancement scheme as it does need it. It would be a different scheme to resurface the street and do the footpaths; it would be enormously expensive and we would still be left with narrow footpaths as we have to have two-way traffic,” he said.

“We would prefer to keep it in reasonably good condition, the money isn’t there to resurface but road markings, potholes, etc, will be dealt with.

“Hopefully in the not-too-distant future we will be in a position to look at the entire traffic management. What businesses on the street need is more pedestrians, more footfall.”

This prompted Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran to interject “Is the one-way system back on the table?”

The decline of Church Street was also highlighted later in the meeting by Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne when she suggested the council introduce a grant scheme to tidy up shopfronts on the street.


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