New bridge is a “fulfilment of a political promise” - councillor claims

A councillor has welcomed the start of the new, €6 million Garrycastle bridge, and claimed it as a “fulfilment of a political promise that I made to the electorate when I contested the 2009 election for Athlone Town Council”.

“The Garrycastle bridge realignment is a project that will impact the everyday lives of thousands of people in the wider Athlone area,” said Cllr Alan Shaw, before re-emphasising his election promise.

“I believe that credit is due to the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar for having ring-fenced the necessary funds over a three-year period,” he added.

The re-alignment of the notorious bridge between Blyry and the rear of the AIT has been discussed for over 20 years and been in the planning process for six. Originally promised for August 2011, it is now expected the project will be completed before the end of next summer.

“This project has been the number one priority of Westmeath County Council in recent years and the director of services Barry Kehoe and his team have worked very effectively with the Department of Transport throughout 2012 to ensure that the project preparation has been undertaken and funding has been secured before the end of 2012,” said Cllr Shaw.

“The realignment of the bridge will bring an end to years of political procrastination, and I am so pleased that the current Transport Minister has seen sense to proceed with the replacement of this piece of chronic transport infrastructure which is more fitting of the 19th century,” he added.

“It is now critical that the project is managed carefully within the agreed time frame of 60 weeks and I wish the construction team and the council engineer Alan Kelly well in overseeing the work. It is important that traffic disruption is minimised and I understand from questions raised at a previous meeting that the old bridge will remain in use over the period of construction until the later stages and thereby reduce traffic disruption to an absolute minimum,” he concluded.

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