BY DECLAN VARLEY
The first phase of public consultation for the new Galway to Athlone Cycleway project is underway and will continue until next week.
The new Galway to Athlone Cycleway will be an attractive amenity that will be enjoyed by local communities for walking and cycling all year round. The new cycleway will deliver a quality and memorable visitor experience with impactful scenery and points of interest along the way.
It will support local businesses and stimulate new enterprises and jobs. The Galway to Athlone project will complete the 270km car-free corridor between Galway and Dublin, creating the opportunity for week-long cycling holidays.
The project is being delivered by the Westmeath, Galway and Roscommon County Councils. Design consultants, RPS from Galway, were appointed earlier this year and given a blank canvas to define a project study area, and thereafter to identify potential route corridors, and then a preferred corridor and route for the new cycleway, informed at all stages by public consultation.
To launch the new cycleway project, the project team has been undertaking an early stage consultation to listen to people’s feedback on the need for the project and to identify local amenities, attractions and features within the study area. This is the first of four periods of public consultation which will be undertaken before a planning application is made in 2023.
More than 500 people attended a series of five public information events held in Athlone, Ballinasloe, Athenry, Loughrea and Oranmore during the week of August 10-14. (These consultations were held prior to current Covid restrictions on indoor gatherings. )
Walk in consultations in Galway took place in the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, Raheen Woods Hotel, Athenry, the Loughrea Hotel, and the Maldron Hotel, Oranmore. The project team met with over 450 people over the four days and discussed the project with them. There was general support for the project and recognition that it would be very positive for Galway. However a number of landowners did express opposition to the greenway going through their lands.
Project Coordinator, Michael Kelly, said it was encouraging to see the positive public reaction to the new Galway to Athlone Cycleway project at the recent information events.
“We were delighted that more than 500 people were able to attend. Valuable local information was shared with the project team. This will help in identifying potential route corridors at the next stage. A strong theme during the consultation was that the potential impact of the project on farming needs to be addressed and that a more collaborative approach with landowners is needed. We are committed to doing this and fully understand that this is needed to make the project a success. I encourage everyone to engage with the project team to inform the project design.”
Information on the project is currently on display in the Roscommon and Galway County Council offices. All open day materials are also available in the online Virtual Consultation Room at www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com
A dedicated Project Office opened in Ballinasloe on August 24. where people can meet the project team by appointment by contacting (091 ) 509267 or [email protected]. The option to meet remotely is also available for those wishing to do so.
The project team expects to publish a number of potential corridor options for the new Galway to Athlone Cycleway later this year.