Wheels in motion for 280km coast-to-coast cycle route
A DEDICATED coast-to-coast cycleway linking Dublin to Galway has moved a step closer after the Department of Transport signed off on the final section of the 280km route.
The proposed greenway between Athlone and the west will take in Shannonbridge in Offaly and the Galway towns of Loughrea, Craughwell, Clarinbridge and Oranmore before meeting the coast, the Irish Independent has learned.
And detailed design work is under way, with sources saying the vast bulk of the network would be off-road and segregated from traffic.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who will open a stretch of the network between Ashtown and Castleknock in Dublin today, said that three sections were already open to the public and that funding would be provided for further sections over the coming years.
"Instead of trying to build the entire route in one go, at a time when resources are very limited, I have taken an incremental approach by developing each section as funding becomes available," he said.
"Although we still have a huge task in finishing the rest of the project, I'm really looking forward to walking, cycling or running along the entire route between Dublin and Galway when it's finally completed.
"It's great to see the Galway to Dublin Greenway starting to take shape. Two years ago we only had a simple idea to run a Greenway along the Royal Canal. Now three sections are open to the public and being used actively by walkers, cyclists and for other leisure pursuits."
The 280km greenway is being built in 12 sections stretching from Guild Street in the Dublin Docklands to Galway city.
Four of the sections are in Dublin city centre, ranging from a short 350-metre stretch between Guild Street in Sheriff Street, to a longer 4.3km section between Phibsborough and Ashtown.
Three of the 12 sections are already complete, planning permission has been granted for another two between Maynooth in Kildare and Croby in Westmeath, while four are currently being designed.
Remaining sections are subject to preliminary design and feasibility studies, before planning permission will be sought.
The cost of the project is not yet known, but so far €5.7m has been allocated. The entire scheme could take a decade to deliver.
In addition, it is expected to deliver significant benefits to local economies, many of which have lost out following completion of the Dublin-Galway motorway.
The Great Western Greenway in Mayo is worth €7m a year to the local economy.
Construction work on a major section of the Galway-Dublin Greenway between Athlone and Mullingar is under way, and is expected to be completed next year. It runs along a disused railway corridor that was once a branch of the old Midlands Great Western Railway.
"Parts can run parallel to the national roads, but much will be on disused railway lines and along the canal network, using greenfield sites is a priority," a source said.
"This is funding dependent, but it's expected that when there's a recovery the rate of work will increase.
"A lot of work will be done by local authorities."