Work has begun on the first element of a €6m flood defence plan for Athlone.
Diggers are on site at the rear of Iona Villas, on Athlone's westside, close to Iona Park, where works involve the construction of a reinforced concrete wall, an embankment, and the raising of a road.
Launching the work today, Minister of State Kevin 'Boxer' Moran said: “I am absolutely delighted to be here today to turn the sod on this very important flood alleviation scheme for Athlone.”
“It is a great day for Athlone and one that marks the beginning of a new era for our great town. I am delighted as Minister responsible for flood relief to be able to deliver this scheme for the people of Athlone.”
It's one of eight flood projects planned in the town as part of the €6m investment.
The other areas aree Deerpark Road ; The Strand / Wolfe Tone Terrace; The Quay; Brick Island; Marine View; River Al (Creggan); Golden Island:
OPW engineer Vincent Rhatigan confirmed that it was hoped to have construction of all the eight flood defence schemes completed within two years.
The works are being carried out by the OPW itself, with the help of sub contractors.
It's now hoped to start work at The Quay at the rear of Sean's Bar in the first quarter of next year.
A delay in that project, which was expected to start before Christmas, has been attributed to the need for more detailed design work.
Westmeath County Council hopes to publish details of the plans for the flood defence schemes at Marine View and Brick Island as part of a public consultation process by the end of January.