Tuesday 26 March 2019

Light at the end of the tunnel

€12m Greenway design to commence as council hopeful of securing millions in funding for 'game changer' project

A section of the Red Bridge greenway including the Victorian bridge
A section of the Red Bridge greenway including the Victorian bridge
Mountelliott tunnel
A section of the Red Bridge greenway including the Victorian bridge
A section of the Red Bridge greenway
Mountelliot tunnel

David Looby

A company has been commissioned to design the Waterford to New Ross greenway.

Malachy Walsh consultants have been appointed by Wexford County Council to draft a design for the 22 km greenway, along with an additional spur from Rosbercon across the Red Bridge, looping back through Mountelliott into New Ross.

Director of Services for Special Projects with Wexford County Council, Eddie Taaffe said the greenway, which has provisionally been called the Kilkenny Greenway as most of it lies within County Kilkenny, is expected to cost €12m. Wexford County Council is the lead local authority on the project which has the full backing of Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford councils.

Mr Taaffe said: 'We applied for funding under the Greenway Infrastructure funding. We have set up an office here in County Hall and we will be employing a project engineer to progress it.'

Wexford County Council has committed to pay for around one quarter of the greenways total cost, but the project cannot be completed without capital funding. 'It's subject to getting capital funding. We have committed our own resources to do a detailed design to get it shovel ready for workers to start on site. We would need a significant injection of grant aid to progress it.'

Describing the proposed greenway - which would stretch along disused railway line from Ferrybank to New Ross and across the Red Bridge - as a potential 'game changer' for New Ross, Mr Taaffe said it would add significantly to the tourism and amenity infrastructure of the area and the region.

'Ultimately the plan would be 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.'

He said the Kilkenny Greenway is one of several projects in to be funded under the Government's €52m Greenway Infrastructure funding round, which is due to be announced within the coming six weeks. 'Greenways are part of national policy and they are all part of providing high quality tourism infrastructure and form part of a health and well-being infrastructure that is being pushed nationally.'

He said the preferred strategy would be to build the Kilkenny and Red Bridge greenways together as there would be cost savings, but if not, the works can be carried out in stages. 'We are very keen to get going on it. It might be an option to deliver it in phases over a number of years. Either way we are committed to it.'

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