One-way traffic in Athlone will not be introduced ahead of the busy Christmas period but will instead start in January, councillors were told this week.
Last Thursday ws the closing date for contractors to submit bids to carry out work as part of the major €3 million enhancement plan for Church Street.
The council believes the upgrade of the town's central street will make Athlone more attractive and friendly to pedestrians, but the introduction of one-way westbound traffic as part of the scheme has proven contentious.
The local authority has now hired a marketing company "to deliver an effective communications strategy” around the Church Street project.
Pat Keating, manager of the Athlone Municipal District, gave an update to members during their monthly meeting last week.
He explained that "the procurement of signage, traffic lights and main contract are all underway, and advance works by the council away from Church Street are continuing."
Mr Keating said the appointment of the successful bidder would be "subject to insurances, tax clearance and health and safety assessment."
Once the contractor is in place, Mr Keating said, one-way traffic would be introduced to coincide with the start of the main paving works on Church Street.
The council previously suggested that one-way traffic could begin in August, then deferred that to November, but this week Mr Keating said: "My best guess is that we would be commencing on Church Street in January."
He added that the council had been talking to the marketing company it has appointed about "the production of a leaflet, and radio ads, but we won't be running with these until we're close to the commencement of works" on the street.
Athlone Mayor Cllr Aengus O'Rourke said it was "good to see" that the project was taking shape and he also welcomed the appointment of the "third party communications firm" to help keep the public updated on the project.
In addition, he said a January timeframe for the introduction of the one-way system was "more realistic" than November, "given the reality of Christmas and everything that goes with it."