Flooding on the Clonown Road from Athlone in 2019

No response on bid for Government funding to raise Clonown Road

“Deeply disappointing” was the reaction of local Fine Gael councillor on Roscommon County Council, John Naughten, to the news that no response has yet been received by the local authority to a request for Exchequer funding to combat flooding on the Clonown Road by raising the road.

The news, which was given to elected representatives at the September meeting of the Athlone Municipal District on Roscommon County Council, was greeted with shock and deep disappointment “particularly given the urgency of the situation” according to Cllr Naughten.

Speaking to the Westmeath Independent this week, Cllr Naughten said the council had prepared “a detailed proposal and costings” for the raising and widening of the Clonown Road which was initially submitted to the Department of Expenditure before being subsequently sent to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage earlier this year.

“The fact that the Department haven't even issued a response to us is extremely disappointing,” he said, adding that he would continue to “press for a response and for funding” to carry out the much-needed works to the Clonown Road.

The September meeting of the municipal district was told that a follow-up request for a response was sent to Minister of State, Patrick O'Donovan, on September 8.

Flooding on the L-2034 local road in Clonown has been an issue of on-going concern for local residents for many years, but has become particularly acute since around 2009. The issue, which has been raised at numerous local authority meetings, has resulted in road closures for long periods during the winter months and has resulted in local residents having to take “a significant detour of up to 10/12 miles in order to get into Athlone” according to Cllr Naughten.

In response to a written motion which was submitted jointly by Cllrs Naughten and John Keogh to a meeting of the Athlone Municiipal District over a year ago, the executive said the road is “not currently a priority road for significant improvements and there are no plans to develop a large scheme to raise the road or investigate safety concerns.”

The response did add that the council would meet with elected members to “document their concerns regarding safety” with a view to developing “a series of smaller schemes” that will tackle climate adaptation and road safety at local level.

Elected members were also reminded in the council’s written response that all works along the route in question are subject to screening for environmental impacts due to the “proximity of designated sites on either side of the route.”

Over a year later, Cllr Naughten said “nothing has changed” as local residents in the Clonown Road face into another winter and the prospect of “being cut off from Athlone for long periods.”

He said he has the “full backing” of his colleagues on the council to continue pressing for Exchequer funding to carry out works on the Clonown Road. “There is an engineering solution but we need money to do it,” and said, adding that the request for funding from central government is “perfectly reasonable.”