A preferred route for the Athlone to Galway National Cycleway Project has been selected, the details of which will be outlined during a public information event, one of four this month, to take place in the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, on Friday, March 31.
Landowners, farmers, cyclists, those in the hospitality industry and the wider community are all invited to view the preferred route for the 205km stretch.
The highly-scenic cycleway, which connects to the existing Dublin-Athlone Greenway, is intended to form part of an international network of long-distance cycling trails in Europe.
Representatives of the project team will be on hand to answer questions about the route at each event.
“We are seeking to continue dialogue at the public information events, and I urge everybody with an interest to attend. The goodwill and co-operation of the farming community is important to make the cycleway a success - and includes real and open engagement with landowners and communities.
“Where feasible, the route has been amended to address issues identified in our meetings with landowners over the last two years. Meeting one-to-one is best for all concerned so that issues can be discussed in-depth and possible solutions identified,” Michael Kelly, project co-ordinator with Westmeath County Council, stated.
While the preferred route will not be revealed publicly until March 27, the cycleway’s path as it departs Athlone is known. The route will traverse the new cycleway bridge over the River Shannon before edging along the river side of Athlone Castle as far as the Big Meadow.
The route will then cross the Shannon Callows on top of the recently constructed flood defences before veering south west of the existing Clonown Road, in close proximity to Cornafulla and Johnstown before continuing onto Shannonbridge.
It will pass through lands adjacent to Ballinasloe, Clonfert, Meelick, Portumna, Woodford, Gort, Kinvara, Kilcolgan, Clarinbridge, Rinville and Oranmore.
Local Fine Gael Senator Aisling Dolan has welcomed further progression of the Athlone to Galway cycleway route.
“I look forward to the next stage here in the cycleway which will transform the region for families with safe and accessible spaces on which to walk, cycle and explore off-road.
“Firstly, a preferred route corridor was selected and now we will shortly have details of a preferred route from Athlone to Galway. I am grateful to landowners who are working with cycleway project liaison officers and the focus where possible on publicly owned lands. Do come along to the public information event in the Shearwater Hotel on Friday, March 31, to see the route from Athlone to Shannonbridge and Ballinasloe. An opportunity to meet with the cycleway project team of engineers and liaison officers and find out next steps”
“This will be a world class piece of infrastructure. Currently the team are in the engagement phase and preparing reviews of the final route for planning approval. In a few years time we will have a cycleway for families within our environs and we can already see the new bridge in Athlone bringing the cycleway to the west,” Senator Dolan asserted.
Approximately half of the route will pass through publicly-owned land and the remaining half through privately owned lands. In the vast majority of cases where private lands are required, the route traverses around the perimeter of the land holding to avoid severance of that land.
Engagement with the landowners within the consultation areas and particularly those affected by the preferred route, has been a priority for the project team since the emerging preferred route corridor was published in late 2021.
A planning application will be lodged with An Bord Pleanála in the third quarter of 2024, after which an oral hearing will take place.
The project team can be contacted during office hours at 091-509267 (weekdays 9am-5pm ) and at: [email protected].