Council seeks contractor to deliver pedestrianised street project
Westmeath County Council is seeking tenders for the development of the next phase of the Athlone Town Centre enhancement project.
The project works proposed relate to a triangular area connecting Mardyke Street, Sean Costello Street and Pump Lane, which join with the eastern end of Church Street and Dublin Gate Street in Athlone.
It involves the pedestrianisation of a 90-metre part of Sean Costello Street between Flannery's pub and Custom Cuts at Sweeney's Corner, a new traffic layout bringing vehicles through Church Street via Mardyke Street, upgraded streets and pavements and an improved public realm.
It will also include "a realignment of the existing carriageway along Mardyke Street" including 120 metres of shared surface area for various categories of street users.
Some €4.13m million in funding for the project was announced back in March 2021.
Also proposed are the provision of street furniture, play equipment, cycle parking, tree planting, and soft landscaping to enhance biodiversity.
A controversial element of the plan is the provision of a new 'priority signalised junction' including enhanced pedestrian facilities, at the intersection of Mardyke Street, Gleeson Street, Pump Lane, and St Mary’s Square. Traffic will no longer be able to travel through Sean Costello Street onto Church Street and will instead have to proceed up Pump Lane before turning onto Mardyke Street and rejoining Church Street near the front entrance to the Athlone Towncentre Shopping Centre.
Earlier this year, the council's regeneration project manager Deirdre Reilly told members of the Athlone Moate Municipal District that it was hoped to be able to start construction before the end of this year.
She said there is a clause in the contract to deal specifically with works at this location in the run-up to the busy Christmas shopping period.
The closing date for tenders is June 9 and with a 395-day construction period specified, it's likely the project would be concluded by the end of 2023 or early 2024.
The area subject to this enhancement includes the former O'Neill's pub site which was subject to compulsory purchase by the council.
The council believes the site will attract significant interest from developers and act as a catalyst for a revival in the area.
Senior Westmeath County Council planner Cathaldus Hartin recently said the streetscape revamp could eventually help to create a "vibrant" hub of bars and restaurants similar to areas like Quay Street in Galway.