Videos highlighting traffic on an access lane to the South East Greenway - questioning how the route can be considered a greenway - have been described as an overreaction by a Wexford County Council official.
The videos have been highlighted on social media site Twitter and have been shared by many, including a travel writer, sparking concern that the project could be negatively impacted.
The New Ross Greenway page's author has not yet responded to a request to outline his or her perspective. New Ross district director Eamonn Hore said: 'First of all it's not part of the greenway route. It's a public road through which you can gain access onto the greenway. A greenway is an off-road scheme so people are perfectly entitled to go down to the lane off the greenway.'
Mr Hore said once greenway users exit the Red Bridge, most people will choose to continue on for 180 metres to the 700m Mount Elliott tunnel, which is one of the top attractions along the entire greenway. 'There used to be a bridge there but it was taken down so we are putting in a humpy bridge to allow free access of high sided vehicles.'
He said once through the tunnel - which will be animated with interesting history images and effects - they will access the old N30 further down from the lane in question and walk or cycle into New Ross via Cherry's Road, which is not part of the greenway, but is the quickest route into the town.
'That route is 6km. They can go all the back to New Ross on a brand new, fully lit footpath. That's what most people will do. If they come off the greenway onto the access lane that will be a 5.5km looped walk. The small cul-de-sac road which comes in under the greenway means you can choose to come down off that and walk half a mile along the quiet cul-de-sac to join the old N30 near the Mount Elliott roundabout. The route in the video can't be a greenway route but it is an alternate route if people want to come down off of the greenway.'
The first plans for the greenway were compiled in 2011. 'When we started putting the idea of the greenway and walking routes around New Ross the National Trials Office decided it was a low traffic road with a cul-de-sac so there was no difference to any other public route. Cherry's Road is not part of the greenway but it is part of a looped walk.'
Mr Hore said significant works will take place on the Rosbercon to Mount Elliott section of the South East Greenway, most notably on the Red Bridge and on the tunnel, adding that there are issues on the Rosbercon, south Kilkenny section of the route also, with landowners and underpasses, for example.
He said based on the cost of the Waterford Greenway, the bid amount for the New Ross to Waterford section of €13.5m is not low. 'When we go to tender in the coming weeks it will be interesting to see what the tender prices are.'
The entire railway line has been cleared of vegetation a number of times and the signing of a contract for the removal of all sleepers and railway tracks is due to happen this week.
A detailed design will be completed this summer and Mr Hore is confident the project can be completed in time for early 2022.
'We understand everyone's concerns and we do our best to meet them. Like any other public road, it's a shared surface. There will be additional signage.'
He said National Trails officials outlined as far back as 2012 that the lane was suitable for limited use by the general public, adding that wheelchair users will not be able to access the greenway from the lane.
'There are public roads crossing the greenway on the New Ross to Waterford section; several of them. People are entitled to park their cars at these sections. I think this is overstating the problems here. That section [in the videos] is less than a half a mile long and there are only 17 houses on it and it's a cul-de-sac.'
He said the most exciting part of the route is the bridge and tunnel, adding that once people cross the 590ft bridge, they can enjoy a short walk before accessing the tunnel.
'The National Trails Office examined these proposals as far back as 2012 and set out, in relation to the cul-de-sac public road section, that it is suitable for walking use by the general public, but should not be signed for use by wheelchair, limited mobility vehicles or for family cyclists. I would expect that most people will take the slightly longer, spectacular option of bridge and tunnel with its footpath link all the way back to town.'
New Ross Standard