The Left Bank area of Athlone could see the addition of a new cycle hub, attracting thousands of tourists annually, if a proposed new cycle route gets the go-ahead.
Speaking at this week’s December meeting of Athlone Town Council project engineer Michael Kelly presented several routes through the town as part of the overall Dublin-Galway cycle route, acknowledging that the local authority had a preferred route.
Mr Kelly presented the various routes, including the one which would take advantage of the disused railway line that travels through the Ballymahon Road, incorporate a cycle hub at the Castle, and would result in the least amount of disturbance to landowners.
To date the route from Dublin to Garrycastle has gone through the planning process, Mr Kelly explained. The next leg of the route would start at Garrycastle and run to the Roscommon border at Hallsbridge - taking in Abbey Road, Marine View, and the Castle.
If chosen the route would see a new bridge built across the Shannon at the cash and carry on the east bank and a new and widened boardwalk bringing users to Custume Bridge, Luan Gallery, and the Castle before continuing along the Showgrounds, Shamrock Lodge Hotel, and out to Hallsbridge.
This route would allow for a cycle hub to be built at the rear of the Castle, further cultivating the area as a major tourist attraction.
There appeared to be only one objection on the night, when Fine Gael councillor Alan Shaw questioned the location of the preferred route’s bridge.
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Shaw said, “The proposed new bridge differs from the location set out in the Waterfront Study which was published by the town council in 2010. The centrepiece of the 2010 study, the framework plan, proposed a new pedestrian bridge south of the town bridge and with a high quality design and material finish that would stretch the width of the Shannon from a proposed new Strand Square to the Left Bank,” he said. However Mr Kelly explained that Waterways Ireland may have issue with a new bridge north of Custume Bridge for navigation reasons. “Cyclists and pedestrians will get a better appreciation of the White Bridge if we go with the preferred route,” explained Mr Kelly.
In total some 270km of cycleway is planned from Dublin to Galway, and with more than 1,000 people using the Mayo Greenway cycle route on the Hallowe’en bank holiday alone, the Athlone version should attract more tourists.
Members of the public are invited to drop into Athlone civic offices on Monday December 9 from 2pm to view the proposed routes for the town’s section of the Dublin-Galway cycle route.
You can also make written submissions to the town clerk over the following two weeks.