The preferred route corridor for progression of the Athlone to Galway cycleway has been selected, the Athlone Advertiser learned this week.
From a number of options, red route number five was the preferred option chosen by the project team and will see the cycleway route meander from Athlone to Shannonbridge, Meelick, Portumna, Gort, Kinvara and Oranmore before culminating in Galway. There will also be a special link en route to enable users to visit Ballinasloe.
Welcoming the development, local Fine Gael Senator, Aisling Dolan, noted that the preferred cycleway route will attract much footfall in particular to the East Galway region as route users depart Athlone for their journey west.
“There is such excitement to know that Ballinasloe will be the first stop for the Athlone to Galway cycleway. Ballinasloe or Béal Atha na Slua is the mouth of the crowds, the crossing point of the River Suck and gateway to the west.
“We are at a criss-cross of motorways, waterways, railways, walkways and now the cycleway. Multi-million euro investment into Ballinasloe will revitalise the East Galway region and make us a base in the west to join the cycleway.
“I campaigned with local groups to promote the green route (one ) through Ballinasloe, Ahascragh, Mountbellew and Athenry and the blue route (three ) through Ballinasloe, Aughrim, Kilconnell and Woodlawn.
“With over 1,600 submissions on route one and 800 plus on route three, it is clearly evident that there is such a hunger and a grá for cycleways especially on these routes in the Hidden Heartlands. We need further investment to open up accessible safe places to walk and cycle as well as opportunity and rural development for our towns and villages.”
“I think of all the families living in the town of Ballinasloe who will now have a place to bring their children to run, walk or cycle on a cycleway. It will be an outlet for all abilities and ages to enjoy healthy outdoor activities.
“Today I’m proud to see the town of Ballinasloe recognised as a major location on the Athlone to Galway cycleway. It is the result of a powerful team effort by all groups in the area.
“This cycleway will come along the canal towpath close to Lawrencetown and through Kylemore, Lismany, Clontuskert and Kellysgrove into Ballinasloe. On this section, it comes along the Beara Breifne Trail and Hymany Way through rich bogland and callows area full of wildlife and rare plants and flowers. It also combines both the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal together as the Royal Canal forms the route from Dublin to Mullingar.”
“I want to pay tribute to all the families, community groups, clubs, schools and businesses who showcased the strengths of our town through such powerful submissions and doing this during lockdown in early 2021.
“So many local organisations united, including the Athlone to Ballinasloe Greenway Group, the Town Team, Ballinasloe Area Community Development, Ballinasloe Life, liaising with community groups, Councillors and public representatives.
“This chosen cycleway route will traverse from Athlone, through Cornafulla, close to Shannonbridge with a link to Ballinasloe and onwards then to Clonfert, Eyrecourt, Portumna, Woodford, Gort, Kinvara, Clarinbridge, Oranmore and Galway through stunning boglands, scenic landscapes and vistas from River Shannon, Grand Canal to the Atlantic sea bringing heritage, history, culture and communities together.
“The Project Cycleway team and Public Liaison Officers are working extensively with all stakeholders with the focus of prioritising publicly owned lands and working with landowners by consent.
“The virtual consultation is now available on www.galwaytoathlonecycleway .com and people will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the chosen route until Monday, January 31, 2022,” Senator Dolan asserted.