The preferred route corridor for the Athlone to Galway greenway is Red Route 5, with a spur to Ballinasloe town.
The route, which is 255km in total will go from Athlone, with the town being the first stop in the west and onwards then to Portumna, Gort, Kinvara to Galway. The decision follows an extensive public consultation process and many meetings with landowners. The spur will be circa 20km with the route tapping into an emerging cycling tourism market. The town was seen as an ideal section of the route as it has the added advantage of having an exit on the M6 motorway which allows for greater accessibility for all visitors.
Some negative reaction from North Galway and Suck Valley Way Communities greeted the early December announcement as well as some questioning as to the viability of a spur link for Cyclists who will have to pedal back the same 20 km having come for a visit to reconnect with their way marked Westerly Route.
Spurs are becoming more common in Greenway development – the Mullingar to Lough Owel and the Achill Spur to Mulranny just two that have been completed in recent years . The success of the spur lies in the attractiveness of what can be viewed on the spur and the quality of visitor offering the terminal point.
Work on the project should commence in 2024 and is it hoped that the cycleway will open to the public in 2025.
Senator Dolan welcomed the news “There is such excitement to know that Ballinasloe will be the first stop in the West for the Galway to Athlone Cycleway.” “We are at a criss-cross of motorways, waterways, railways, walkways and now the Cycleway,” she added. “This multi-million-euro investment into Ballinasloe will revitalise our region and make us a base in the West to join the Cycleway” she concluded.
Five route corridors will be published by the local project-based team and will be whittled down to one corridor by July. The emerging preferred route was according to Senator Dolan will come along by Athlone Castle through Roscommon along the Shannon down through Moore. “It will cross the Ballinasloe to Shannonbridge road beyond Clonfad church taking the Bord na Móna railway line across to Kylemore and join the Grand Canal towpaths at Kylemore then through Lismany, Clontuskert, Kellysgrove to Poolyboy to reach the Marina in Ballinasloe,” she explained.
Local TD Denis Naughten believes that the track should pass through Kellysgrove Bog, adjoining the town. “Plans are now underway to rehabilitate the Bog and I believe that this should be developed into a public park for the wider Ballinasloe area,” he explains. “Such a park, with the inclusion of the Greenway, would tie in with the Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands Tourism brand which is promoting the region using a number of key tourism corridors,” said Naughten.
Cllr. Evelyn Parsons also commented on the matter “I believe the new Greenway must be routed along the canal, through Kellysgrove Bog where I am committed to the development of a public park. With a population of 6,700 people constrained within the town centre this highlights the need for a facility such as a public park, particularly with the current closure of the track at Dunlo. I have urged Galway County Council to engage with Bord na Mona at an early stage regarding the development of a park and trails,” she stated.
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