Plans for a greenway between Ballinasloe and Galway has taken another step forward after Galway county councillors gave their approval to an agreement which will allow the National Roads Authority to begin the design process.
The project, which forms part of the major Dublin to Galway Greenway project, has been hailed as a great opportunity for east Galway towns and villages along the cycleway route. However, there were many councillors at Monday’s local authority meeting who warned that the lessons regarding the land acquisition problems that plagued the M6 motorway project must be learnt.
Approval was sought for a Section 85 Agreement between Galway County Council and Westmeath County Council which has been instructed by the NRA to manage the advancement of the Dublin to Galway Cycleway Project. The agreement will ensure Galway County Council assists Westmeath County Council and their consultants in matters of public consultation and landowner issues. It is planned to hold a number of public consultation events along the route corridor for the scheme to facilitate landowner input into the route selection process.
Acting director of services for roads, transportation, marine, and general services, Liam Gavin, told councillors it was strongly recommended that approval be given so the NRA could proceed with the design.
“It will help develop rural areas and we are looking at off-road options to go through towns and villages so that cyclists will stop there,” said Mr Gavin, before adding that the Mayo Greenway is worth €7 million per annum to the local economy.
Concerned for the potential of land acquisition problems, Cllr Dermot Connolly reminded the council executive that the motorway development “didn’t go easy” and that it was important to learn from that. This was echoed by Cllr Tim Broderick, who urged the council to ensure it did not end up with ownership of large tracts of land and that there was a “speedy transfer back to the owners” if needed.
Welcoming the project Cllr Jimmy McClearn described it as a “great opportunity” for the towns and villages along the route that had previously been neglected from a tourism point of view. Describing himself as a keen cyclist, Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher said it was inevitable that there will be some issues but the project will help develop east Galway and “we need to grasp this opportunity”.
In response Mr Gavin said no route had been selected and the council would be working with landowners to make arrangements and to reach a consensus. “This applies to this route and the Galway to Clifden route,” said Mr Gavin before adding the council would take the lessons learnt from the M6 project and talk to all landowners.