Tourism Minister Shane Ross has directed Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII ) to advance the Dublin to Galway greenway.
The project was halted in late 2015 after its proposed route west of the Shannon caused anger among farmers, whose lands would be seriously impacted.
Speaking in the Luan Gallery on Thursday last, Minister Ross said TII’s experience in developing Ireland’s motorway network and the Luas will prove invaluable in advancing the project.
“I am asking them to begin discussions with a view to putting in place an agreement on a fair and equitable compensation framework for landowners impacted by the greenway,” he said.
“Mandating TII to do this shows the importance with which we view this project. This is a major undertaking involving a new bridge in the historic centre of Athlone, negotiating with hundreds of landowners, and constructing a greenway that will bring hundreds of thousands of users into parts of the country that they might not normally stop in. It will play a huge part in transforming Athlone and the towns along the route.”
Minister of State, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said the news is “tremendous” for the region.
“This is not about Athlone but about advancing the entire region. It is also about the people. We are developing a major tourist infrastructure in the greenway, and I am delighted that Minster Ross has brought in TII to advance the project,” he commented.
Minister Ross said the finalising of the Greenway Strategy is underway, which will address issues of concern that were raised when the project was halted. It will also include the extension of the Old Rail Trail into Athlone.
“We have seen great numbers using the Old Rail Trail to date. I am sure that once the greenway is completed into the centre of Galway and the centre of Dublin we will see an even greater use of the Greenway, with the new bridge linking east and west here in Athlone. This will provide a great stopping off point for hundreds of thousands of visitors, both domestic and overseas, putting Athlone at the centre of our greenway network,” he said.