A sum of €470,000 has been allocated to provide 20 kilometres of cycle lanes along the former N6 between Athlone and Ballinasloe.
The 20km route will run along the old Dublin-Galway road between Athlone and Ballinasloe, and it is hoped could in the future link up with the Tullamore to Moate route along a disused rail line.
Offaly County Council received funding of €400,000 for the provision of 16.8km of dedicated cycle lanes along the R420 (former N80 ) from Tullamore to Moate “with future potential to extend the route on to Athlone along a disused rail line”.
There was also €451,000 for Westmeath County Council to upgrade 11.3 km of canal towpath along the Royal Canal, from Boardstown Bridge eastbound towards Meath. The works will extend an existing route, with further potential to develop the entire extent of the canal towpath within the county.
The announcement sees a total of over €1.3 million in funding allocated to cycle routes in the Midlands.
The routes are included in a list of 16 projects across the country which are to benefit from over €7 million investment in cycle routes announced by Minister for Public Transport Alan Kelly.
Deputy Denis Naughten welcomed the funding, saying the new cycleways would tie in with the growing demand for activity holidays and bring additional tourism and business to areas which have missed out since the opening of the M6 motorway.
“In County Roscommon we have the Green Heartlands Cycle Route and the Suck Valley Way that tie in directly with the N6, and this new project can now be used to bring tourists to other parts.
“When I proposed to Minister Varadkar the development of the old N6 for such a purpose, I suggested that this route be developed along the whole of the old N4/N6 between Dublin and Galway, thus creating Ireland’s first interurban cycle/walkway.
“[The] announcement is a major step forward in achieving this objective, with approval being granted for a further section between Tullamore and Moate, with potential to extend this to Athlone either along the old N6 or the old Mullingar rail line.”
The announcement comes just before National Bike Week starting this Saturday June 16, which will see a series of cycling events being held across the country.