A €3m 22 km walkway from New Ross to Waterford, taking in the Red Bridge, is a major step closer to becoming a reality after an agreement was reached with CIE to submit a planning application for the works.
Town Clerk Anthony Bailey said inter-agency work to develop a Greenway walking and cycling trail along CIE disused railway lands starting at New Ross has been significantly advanced through the efforts of Wexford County Council, Kilkenny County Council, Waterford city and county council, Kilkenny Leader Partnership and Wexford Local Development.
The new route will run 22km southbound from New Ross towards Waterford and northbound for 2.5km the development of an overall 6km looped cycle/walking trail that would cross the old Red Bridge and return via the public road to New Ross
Mr Bailey said planning applications will be prepared in early 2015 to advance these trails which will be subject to funding.
'This will transform and add significantly to the development of tourism and recreational infrastructure in the South East.'
Cllr Michael Whelan agreed that it was a great project, adding that a similar walking and cycle route could be developed from Ballycullane to Wellingtonbridge along the old Rosslare to Waterford rail line.
Cllr Martin Murphy asked where the money for the walkway would come from.
Mr Bailey said New Ross Municipal District and Wexford County Council have already invested money getting a structural report of the Red Bridge undertaken, as the bridge is a key part of the plans.
A feasibility study about the route was also undertaken and Mr Bailey said there is Smarter Travel Funding available for projects like this.
'We're looking at having the project shovel ready and when a stimulus package comes on stream we'll be ready to say to the minister that the project is ready to go.'
Director of Services Eamonn Hore said County Wexford is slightly behind other counties when it comes to having good cycle and walk paths.
'We've the proper assessment done now and there won't be any significant effect on the environment saving us having to go through An Bord Pleanala. We'd be able to go to tender within a week (once the funding was available).'
Mr Hore said there is a national plan to develop major walking and cycling paths adding that the New Ross to Waterford line would be a continuation of the Dungarvan to Waterford plan.
He said the route will cost €3m to develop, proposing that Wexford County Council take the lead on the initiative.
'I feel if we drive it then it will have more of a chance as it means more to us in Wexford than anywhere else.'
Cllr Anthony Connick proposed for Wexford County Council to be the lead partner in the Greenway plan and he was seconded by Cllr Murphy.
New Ross Standard