Local councillors have heavily criticised Irish Water for the state of sections of Church Street following roadworks undertaken by the utility before Christmas.
Mayor Aengus O’Rourke raised the issue during Monday’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District, when councillors were receiving an update on works associated with the Church Street enhancement project.
He said he had received a number of representations from the public regarding the condition of the road during the holiday season, informing him that several areas that Irish Water worked on had become dangerous.
Councillors John Dolan (FG ) and Michael O’Brien (IND ) were also critical of work undertaken by Irish Water in other areas of Athlone and in Moate.
Mayor O’Rourke asked district engineer, Pat Nally, whether it was possible for the council to undertake repairs on these sections of road and send the bill to Irish Water for it.
Mr Nally said there is currently no mechanism in place to recover costs associated with work of this kind, and that the council must simply wait for Irish Water to undertake it. Furthermore, should the council work on a section of road Irish Water has and an accident take place, they would be included in any public liability case that might arise.
Mayor O’Rourke said the situation displays a gap in the delivery of a crucial service in road repairs.
Sinn Féin councillor, Paul Hogan questioned whether the council were aware of the works taking place.
Director of services, Barry Kehoe said the transfer of duties from the local authority to Irish Water through legislation is still taking place. In order to undertake works on a road, typically an application must be to the council for a road opening cert, but due to the legislative limbo associated with Irish Water it currently slips through the cracks and does not need to apply for such permission.
Cllr Hogan expressed his frustration at this, while Mayor O’Rourke said the situation is just another example of the fiasco associated with Irish Water since its creation.
District manager Pat Keating said Irish Water has assured him plans are in place to revisit the works in question.