Completion date set for troublesome bridge

Traffic jams at the infamous Garrycastle bridge will be a thing of the past by August 2011, it was revealed at the monthly meeting of Athlone Town Council.

It was also revealed an initial €600,000 had been released from the 2009 regional roads allocation towards the €6m project.

This came to light in reply to a motion from Cllr Egbert Moran to prohibit buses and HGVs from using this bridge on account of the additional congestion they seem to cause.

“Engineers have been appointed to replace this bridge,” said Director of Services for Athlone, Barry Kehoe.

“It will go to tender this year and be built in 2010. We’d expect to be on site this time next year and there’d be 18 months building time.”

Cllr Moran was seeking some form of traffic management system at the bridge in order to alleviate the peak hour congestion.

“There’s another way out [by using the by-pass] and they should use it,” he said.

He also criticised the use of this route for training HGV drivers as he felt their inexperience added to the congestion.

Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran suggested a set of temporary traffic lights.

“A learner lorry got stuck there yesterday and held up traffic for 20 minutes,” he said.

“They should all be banned,” said Cllr John Butler.

“It’s not fit for this type of vehicle. If the [railway] line was in use I don’t think they’d be allowed over it,” said Iarnrod Eireann employee, Cllr Butler.

However, this position was contradicted by Mr Kehoe who told the meeting the bridge was able to take these weights and “given the lack of an accident history at this location and the proposed upgrade works, it is considered the current arrangements should remain until the commencement of construction”.

The project will be overseen by the county council rather than the town council.


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