The first temporary reinstatement of roads as part of the Athlone Mains Rehabilitation Scheme has been described as disgraceful.
Graham Niven, the county’s engineer overseeing the project said that while progress has been good on the project four weeks in, there have been hiccups, including traffic hold-ups on the Ballymahon Road, and huge potholes following rain in the same area.
Speaking at this week’s Athlone Town Council meeting Cllr Kevin “Boxer” Moran was severely critical of the works so far. He said there is a lack of signage and the signage that’s in place is “very badly done”.
He said torrents of rain had fallen and people using the Arcadia Clonbrusk Road didn’t know that there were huge potholes in the road.
“There’s no sign to say the roads are in a bad state, there are only signs where they are working,” he said.
Mr Niven admitted that the temporary reinstatement first carried out was disgraceful and will not be permitted again.
He said reinstating the roads to their proper condition is a two stage process. The first temporary stage should involve a granular filling topped with tarmacadam, which is allowed to settle for six months before being followed by the permanent stage.
However, at Arcadia the initial work was simply filled with granular filling which washed away in the heavy rain, leaving potholes. Work to remediate the situation began this Monday morning.
One group has been working in Arcadia for four weeks, with good progress, no accidents, and an excellent working relationship with the schools and businesses in the area. After problems on the first day involving the Ballymahon Road at rush-hour, traffic is now moving well, he said.
There will be signs erected on M6 junctions approaching the town to warn of delays which will begin at Abbey Road. That phase of work begins with a second team at the treatment plant there from February 10.
On February 17 they will begin work on Abbey Road itself.
Mr Niven also committed to ensure that bollards, beacons, and equipment are properly stored at sites and lit up, following concerns raised by Cllr Aengus O’Rourke.
Cllr Paul Hogan said he and his colleagues had been promised a copy of the traffic management plan which would help councillors advise concerned residents in different areas.
Living in Arcadia, he said he had been inundated with phonecalls about the works.
He also called for signage on all the major approach roads to the town.
Striking a positive note, Cllr Jim Henson said he had never seen such engagement with the public on any project in the town.
He accepted there had been hiccups, but said he was reassured by the way the council and the company were acknowledging these and moving on to improve things.
Mr Niven concluded by agreeing to provide a copy of the traffic management plan to councillors at each phased stage once the plans are approved.
He also committed to ensuring there are safe crossing points for pedestrians at each site.
“The more variable message signs the better,” he acknowledged.