Any decision on introducing a one-way system in the centre of Athlone town will have to wait until the council purchase the railway field.
A motion at Monday’s Athlone Municipal District meeting from councillor Frankie Keena requested that the council consider the introduction of a one-way traffic management system.
“There is not a week that goes by that people are saying to me that Church Street is dying, there’s no footfall of people, and that it’s very difficult for traders to survive,” Cllr Keena explained.
“I feel strongly that providing wider footpaths, more pedestrian crossings, and possibly some on street car parking will increase footfall on our main streets.”
The council replied that the creation of traffic management measures, including more “pedestrian friendly measures” have already been included in the Athlone Town Development Plan 2014-2020. “A one way system would be consistent with these objectives,” a statement said.
The statement added that “The implementation of a one-way traffic management system would have a positive impact on the town centre area and the project would be subject to consultation with all of the stakeholders involved.”
However the council needs to complete the railway link road prior to the implementation of a one-way system.
Several councillors who were in agreement with a one-way system were eager to point out the poor state of the footpaths on Church Street, “The paths are narrow aren’t wheelchair or buggy friendly,” said Cllr Keena. “We need to make Church Street more enticing,” he added.
Cllr Aengus O’Rourke said that although consultation with traders in the area would be necessary before any decision was made, a more inclusive debate to include shoppers was essential. “Traders aren’t the be all and end all, shoppers vote with their feet; we need to look at similar towns and how it has worked for them,” he explained.
Director of services Hugh O’Reilly confirmed that a simplified design for the new road was ready to be sent to CIE. He also confirmed that street enhancement would be carried out from Irishtown to the town bridge once the watermain rehabilitation works were finished.