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Athlone's one-way traffic system to begin in two weeks' time

Story by Adrian Cusack

Thursday, 1st February, 2018 12:41pm

Athlone's one-way traffic system to begin in two weeks' time

A design image showing part of the Church Street streescape enhancement which is starting soon.

The new one-way traffic system through the centre of Athlone will be introduced in two weeks' time, on Thursday, February 15. 

The system forms a key part of this year's €3 million redevelopment of Church Street, the town's central thoroughfare, in order to make it more attractive and pedestrian-friendly. 

The date for the introduction of the one-way system was announced in Athlone Civic Centre this morning at a briefing attended by local media, businesspeople, and other community representatives. 

When the new system comes into effect, east-bound motorists travelling over the Athlone town bridge will no longer be able to continue through Church Street but will instead be directed to a new route that the council has named the 'Orange Loop'. 

The 'Orange Loop' will bring traffic down Northgate Street, around by Southern Station Road, and through the Crescent junction to the Ballymahon Road and Gleeson Street. 

The existing one-way traffic flow on Mardyke Street, between Carey's pub and Custom Cuts at The Sweeny, will also change direction from east-bound to west-bound on February 15.  

Electronic signs, advising motorists of the introduction of the one-way system have been placed on some approach roads to the town. Permanent signage for the 'Orange Loop' is also being erected.

The streetscape work is being carried out by Kildare-based construction firm John Cradock Ltd. It will include a new plaza area at Custume Place, street furniture including bicycle stands and street lighting, planters with flower beds, foliage, and native trees. 

Pat Keating, manager of the Athlone Municipal District, said he expected that the Church Street project would be completed by Christmas. 

He emphasised that Athlone would be "fully open for business at all stages" while the work is being carried out.

Mr Keating also said adjustments had been made to the traffic signals at the Crescent junction in order to help it handle an increased volume of traffic arising from the new system.

Free one-hour parking is being introduced in the council's car park at The Strand for the duration of the project. 

The town's Mayor, Cllr Aengus O'Rourke described the investment in Church Street as "a further vote of confidence in the future of the town."

He said Church Street was currently dominated by high volumes of two-way traffic and it was "not conducive for browsing or social interaction."

He added that - when the work is complete - the street will be "an inviting, welcoming space for shoppers, tourists, pedestrians and the wider local community, allowing the area to flourish as a thriving shopping, business and social district."

Cllr O'Rourke also paid tribute to his fellow members of Athlone Municipal District, saying "literally hundreds of hours" of work had been done, "often behind closed doors, late at night," to bring the project to this stage. 

"We are confident that this can, and will, work," he concluded. 

John McGrath, President of Athlone Chamber of Commerce acknowledged that this was "a nervous time for businesses on Church Street" but he said the project was badly-needed as the street had been "begging for an upgrade for quite a while."

* For more details, see next week's edition of the Westmeath Independent

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