It’s business as usual for traders in Church Street, Athlone as a 12-week series of street closures began this week as part of the Athlone Watermains Rehabilitation Project.
Works started on the town’s main thoroughfare on Monday morning and are expected to take a total of 12 weeks. Church Street will be closed between Custume Place and John Broderick Street for a six-week period, and from John Broderick Street to Castlemaine Street for a further six weeks.
Councillors received an update on the works at a special meeting on Monday, which was attended by several Church Street business owners.
They raised several isues with the council’s senior engineer Greg Duggan, project engineer Grahame Niven, and representatives of the contractors ShareRidge. These included the delays in commencing works in Church Street, the closure of the street at the height of the tourist season, the quality of the reinstatement of road surfaces after works, and lack of effective communication with traders and local residents.
Cllr Aengus O’Rourke said it was a “poor judgement call” to close the town’s main thoroughfare to traffic during the busy summer months.
Mr Duggan explained that the watermains rehabilitation programme is a 10-month contract, which is scheduled to be completed by November 2014. The project ran into delays after archaeological finds in Northgate Street, which pushed the start of the Church Street works back by about four weeks.
The initial reinstatement of roads is temporary to allow for the settlement of the fill within the trenches, and permanement resurfacing will be put in place after a six-month period. However Mr Duggan agreed to review any sites about which there were concerns, and confirmed that permanent reinstatement would be done straight after the Church Street works in order to prevent further closures later in the year.
Contractors also agreed to re-examine the traffic management plan for the area, following requests from councillors. Cllr Paul Hogan suggested traffic be diverted down Friary Lane instead of Lloyd’s Lane for the first phase of the works.
Further information is available under the ‘Water services’ section of Westmeath County Council’s website, www.westmeathcoco.ie Signs are in place on the approach roads to the town alerting motorists to the street closures.
Anyone with queries during the course of the works can contact the contractor ShareRidge on (087 ) 9843004.