A view of Burgess Park.

Autumn start for Shannon tunnelling work

Trenchless technology is to be used by Uisce Éireann to construct two new tunnelled crossings of the river Shannon as part of the permanent upgrade works on the sewer network, with work on the first crossing - from Deerpark to Burgess Park - due to begin in September.

A spokesperson for Uisce Éireann confirmed this week that the use of trenchless technology will “eliminate the need for open-cut excavation along the route” of the sewer works on the Shannon. “Where feasible, the new sewers will be installed using trenchless technology, meaning construction will take place underground without the need for open-cut excavation” the water company confirmed.

This news will be warmly welcomed by residents and motorists in Athlone who are currently battling a myriad of road closures and traffic diversions across the town due to a number of construction projects.

While work on the first of the two sewer crossings, the Lower Shannon Crossing, is due to get underway in September, the second crossing – from the Quays to the Strand Carpark – will not commence until the second quarter of 2024.

Preliminary site investigation works began along the Quays, in the area behind Sean's Bar, on July 10 last, to determine the extent of existing utilities/services and ground conditions. These works have now concluded, and the information will be used to complete the design for the new sewer network crossing from the Quays to the Strand Carpark, known as the Upper Shannon Crossing.

Meanwhile, work is continuing on the Athlone Main Drainage project at a number of locations across the town, with the latest detailed update from Uisce Éireann revealing that ongoing works are currently underway at three separate locations, including Deerpark Road Compound/The Meadows; Abbey Road/Coosan and Golden Island.

Drainage works are also taking place at Burgess Park and Deerpark Road-Canal Crossing, while trial holing investigations in Custume Place ahead of tunnelling works were completed earlier this month. These works necessitated road closures in the area of Custume Place from June 21 to July 5.

Road closures are also in place at Deerpark and Canal Banks Road, at the canal crossing, until Friday week, July 28, to facilitate the construction of two shafts on Deerpark Road, on either side of the canal, ahead of tunnelling works on the Shannon. These works began in May, and were due to take approximately eight weeks to complete.

Shaft construction works are also continuing at Deerpark Road Compound/The Meadows, but no road closures have been put in place along this section, with traffic flow described as “normal.” Works on this section began in June and are ongoing.

Work on the construction of a shaft, ahead of tunnelling works, is also taking place in Burgess Park, beside Golden Island. The work began on July 3 and is expected to take approximately seven weeks to complete, and Uisce Éireann has confirmed that traffic management is “not required” in this area and that traffic flow is “as normal.”

Meanwhile, in Golden Island, works are continuing on what has been described by Uisce Éireann as “temporary cofferdam works” ahead of “pumping shaft construction works” at the Golden Island compound. All works are taking place within the compound perimeter, according to the water company spokesperson, and site signage is in place. The drainage works began in Golden Island in January of this year.

Drainage works in the Abbey Road/Coosan area of Athlone began in June with the setting up of a site compound area, with all works taking place within the perimeter of the hoarding. Traffic flow in the area is described as “normal” and Uisce Éireann says “no traffic management is required” for the duration of these works, which are ongoing.

The Athlone Main Drainage project involves the construction of new pumping stations in Golden Island and Coosan West, the construction of almost 3km of new sewers, and decommissioning of the existing under-performing pumping stations and pipework. Combined sewer overflows are to be eliminated at six locations along the River Shannon and replaced by two new overflows designed to Uisce Éireann standards.

Uisce Éireann has said that, when completed, this project will "significantly improve water quality in the River Shannon by removing non-compliant overflows. It will also increase the capacity of the sewer network, providing for future population growth and economic development, and reduce the risk of sewer flooding in homes and business premises."