Local Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena, has welcomed the near completion of the extension of the Greenway between Garrycastle and the White Gates, with just some small work left to be carried out at the junctions and the White Gates egress.
Cllr Keena praised the amenity for “opening up a whole new vista” by providing both pedestrian and cycling shortcut routes within urban Athlone.
“As a teenager, I recall walking this railway line from my home house in Bushfield into Athlone because it was the shortest route into town,” he said. “One of the most important points about this is that it is for everyone’s enjoyment which was very evident by the large number of people utilising it over the past weekend.
“A key addition to the Greenway is that it is going to be lit up. I recall requesting the council to provide street lights along this urban section of Greenway when we were going through the Part 8 planning process, and I am delighted that this was included in the design. Approximately 53 lights will be erected shortly which will make the Greenway usable during the dark evenings.”
Cllr. Keena also feels that the completion of this part of the Greenway will provide an opportunity to reduce the amount of school traffic on the Retreat Road during peak times.
“Parents will now be able to drop off their children at the newly surfaced carpark beside the Gaelscoil, which is only a short walk away from the secondary schools,” he said. “It is also an ideal location for school buses to drop off and pick up students. I hope that management and parents associations from the three post-primary schools embrace this idea and work with the council to promote this option. It is something that I will be discussing with them in the new year.”
The next phase of the Greenway is to extend it to the Marina. The council has booked an outage for the October bank holiday weekend next year with Irish Rail to build a tunnel under the live railway line near the hospital grounds, an appointment Cllr Keena says must be adhered too.
“It is so important that the Government approve funding to the council to carry out this work next year. I am calling on our four Dáil deputies to follow up and deliver on Westmeath County Council’s request for this funding,” he concluded.