Monday 22 July 2019

Greenway right on track with €8m injection

Economic, health and wellbeing benefits as unique, 'game changing' greenway to give massive boost to area, writes David Looby

Eddie Taaffe.
Eddie Taaffe.

The opening of a 24km greenway walking and cycling route to Waterford has taken a massive step forward after the government announced €8m in funding for the project.

Applications were received for 22 greenway projects in November 2018 and following an assessment carried out by representatives from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Fáilte Ireland, Sport Ireland Trails New Ross was chosen as one of ten greenway projects, receiving one fifth of the total €40m allocated.

The New Ross to Waterford greenway scored high based on the criteria set out in the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways.

The greenway will feature a 24.3km greenway stretching from Ferrybank in Waterford to New Ross, including a spur from Rosbercon across the Red Bridge, looping back through Mountelliott into New Ross. This 'Red Bridge Greenway' will feature a 300m long tunnel which is sure to be a hit, especially with younger users of the greenway which has provisionally been called the Kilkenny Greenway as most of it lies within County Kilkenny.

The entire project is expected to cost over €13m to complete. Transport Minister Shane Ross announced €8m in funding on Friday and the Kilkenny Greenway has received the highest allocation, along with the Midleton to Youghal greenway, of the projects funded nationally this year to the tune of €40m.

A company, Malachy Walsh consultants, was commissioned to design the Waterford to New Ross greenway in February and Wexford County Council has planning in place so works can begin this year.

Wexford County Council is the lead local authority on the project which has the full backing of Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford councils and will be contributing significantly to the sum needed to complete the greenway.

The councils applied for funding under the Greenway Infrastructure funding round and an office was set up in Wexford County Hall from where a project engineer was tasked with progressing plans for the project.

Wexford County Council has committed to pay for some of the greenways total cost and has dedicated significant resources to do a detailed design to get it shovel ready for workers to start on site.

The greenway is expected to would add significantly to the tourism and amenity infrastructure of the area and the region.

Ultimately the plan is to link in with the Rosslare to Waterford greenway and a blueway stretching to St Mullins.

'Having a Victorian bridge and a 200 to 300 metre tunnel as features just outside New Ross town would be game changing. Both are quite unique, especially the railway bridge. They are very close to New Ross town and within cycling distance. Greenways are part of national policy and they are all part of providing high quality tourism infrastructure and form part of a health and wellbeing infrastructure that is being pushed nationally,' director of services for special projects Eddie Taaffe said in an interview earlier this year.

The council's preferred strategy was to build the Kilkenny and Red Bridge greenways together as there would be cost savings, so the council management team are delighted to be able to progress both.

Minister Ross made the announcement on Friday as part of national bike week which is running all this week. Minister of State Paul Kehoe welcomed the announcement, saying: 'I have been actively lobbying Minister Ross and Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin to ensure this was delivered for New Ross. The projects funded through these allocations will provide safe, substantially segregated greenways that give users access to the beautiful scenery that Ireland is renowned for and will bring new visitors to the many attractions there are to see around the country.'

Mr Kehoe said there was a very high level of interest in this funding call with 22 applications received. He said the New Ross community has been crying out for this sort of investment for a long time and it's fantastic that we have reached this point.

'I will now work with Wexford County Council and Waterford County Council which have been instrumental in delivering on this project. I also want to recognize the work of my government colleagues Shane Ross and Brendan Griffin. We must now continue to press on and deliver more investment for New Ross,' he said.

Chief Executive of Wexford County Council Tom Enright highlighted the intention to link the South East Greenway to the very successful Waterford Greenway via the proposed North Quays and Bilberry Link Projects which have also received funding of under the National Greenway Strategy.

'These combined projects will result in a 72km Greenway of regional significance spanning from New Ross to Dungarvan, creating a highly significant tourist attraction capable of attracting international visitors and transforming the economy of the entire region,' said Mr. Enright.

'The Southeast Greenway is also enhanced by a proposal to provide a River Taxi service between New Ross and Waterford which would complement the Greenway and provide users with a unique experience for their return journey,' said Mr Enright.

New Ross Standard