Galway greenways are set to benefit from Government funding of €13.25 million - the largest single-year investment in greenway infrastructure in the State to date.
The funding is part of an overall €63.5 million investment in cycleways and walkways across the State. The Galway projects to benefit are the Clifden-Recess section of the Connemara Greenway, which will receive €3.35 million; while €1.8 million has been allocated for the Galway-Moycullen route. This finding will support the construction of a greenway connecting the city out to the west of the county.
The remaining €8.1 million to develop the Galway-Athlone section of the Galway-Dublin Greenway, will fund the construction of a greenway bridge over the River Shannon
The funding has been welcomed by a variety of Galway politicians, with the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Fine Gael Galway West TD, Hildegarde Naughton, who said the investment represented a major policy change in the way walking and cycling infrastructure is supported.
'Deficient infrastructure has been a major impediment to the development of sustainable communities in Connemara'
“The benefit of greenways is multifaceted," she said. "They provide world-class amenities for locals and unlock for them the occasionally hidden beauty of our landscape and countryside for recreational purposes, as well as providing viable commuting alternatives."
Dep Naughton said Greenways can potentially provide a major boost to the region's tourist industry. "They tap into the massive growth market of adventure tourism," she said, "and disperse visitors to towns and villages that may otherwise miss out on the economic benefits of tourism."
While a small section of the Greenway has already been completed near Ballinahinch, Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív said its potential "will not be fully realised" until the entire greenway is completed. He also pointed out it will need agreement from landholders in the area.
'Any increase in recreational cycling will also lead to an increase in commuting by bike, reducing our traffic'
“Deficient infrastructure has been a major impediment to the development of sustainable communities in Connemara," he said. "With the roll out of the national broadband plan; ongoing investment in roads, such as the N59; and new investment in the other roads in the area I look forward to these deficiencies being addressed in the coming years."
Green Party Senator Pauline O’Reilly said the funding will be "transformative for Galway", not only in tourism terms, but also for in terms of quality of life. "Greenways open up new access to nature as well as making commuting by bicycle a real option for children and adults," she said.
Her comments were also echoed by her party colleague, Galway City West councillor Niall Murphy: "Any increase in recreational cycling will also lead to an increase in commuting by bike, reducing our traffic."
Fianna Fáil Senator for Roscommon/Galway Eugene Murphy also welcomed the allocation. "The Government is clearly committed," he said, "to delivering a safe and sustainable environment for active travel in our villages, towns, and cities."