Athlone – €3.5m watermains project gets the green light

It has been announced that the €3.5 million rehabilitation plan for the town’s elderly watermains was given the green light, the Athlone Advertiser reports.

This was revealed in a presentation by Tobin Consultants to a special meeting of the Athlone Area councillors and the town council at the Civic Centre this week.

Brian Downes from Tobin explained the existing cast iron mains and asbestos cement “were at the end of their functional life”, and that this project would replace up to 25 km of them around the town.

He also pointed out that to secure the full funding, at least 50 per cent of the work must be completed by the end of the year.

The project was expected to start on the west side of town in June, and that a traffic management plan to help minimise disruptions is to be submitted to the county council once contractors have been engaged.

Already, the council has replaced 5.5km of watermains in Coosan between May 2011 and February 2012.

“The county council is conscious the works in the streets of this historic town will present particular challenges, in particular the need to carry it out while minimising the impacts of traffic flow, and to ensure traders and residents are not adversely affected more than is necessary,” said a council spokesperson.

The announcement was cautiously welcomed by the gathered representatives, but each had a question or two to raise with Mr Downes.

Cllr Frankie Keena suggested all residents’ associations in affected areas should also be notified when work is to start in their neighbourhoods, as opposed to the normal notice published in the local press.

Cllr John Dolan wanted to know if the work could be kept away from the tourist attractions in the town during the peak tourism season.

Mr Downes said that this had been looked at and would be facilitated as much as possible.

He pointed out that work outside schools would only be done during the summer holidays, while the digging up of Pearse Street would only happen in August when the courthouse is closed.

“There are areas we know are sensitive, but we have to allow for an amount of flexibility, but a lot of snags can be avoided by pre-planning,” he cautioned.

“This is a critical investment for the town for the next 20, 30, 40 years,” said director of services Barry Kehoe.

A map outlining the works locations, though not their dates of commencement yet, is available on the council’s website, and for viewing in the civic offices in the town square.