Friday April 7, 2017
Minister Ross officially opens the Garrycastle to Whitegates National Cycle Network in Athlone
“By 2018, it will be possible to cycle from Dublin to Athlone almost entirely off-road thanks to Greenways’ – Minister Shane Ross
The project is an extension of the 42km Mullingar to Athlone Greenway officially opened in 2015, which in turn is part of the Dublin to Galway Greenway
Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister, Shane Ross TD, has opened the latest part of the cycleway/greenway that will soon stretch from Dublin to Galway. The Minister travelled to Athlone today to mark the opening of the 2.2km cycleway/greenway from Garrycastle to Whitegates. Westmeath County Council was awarded €496,187 in July, 2016 from a reallocation of National Cycle Network funding to complete the project. The project is an extension of the 42km Mullingar to Athlone Greenway officially opened in 2015, which in turn is part of the Dublin to Galway Greenway.
Speaking at the opening, Minister Ross said not only is greenway an important extension to the Old Rail Trail, but it is also providing much needed segregated cycling access to a number of schools and colleges along and near that route that have nearly 3,000 students between them.
“We are seeing many more greenways opening and I am being asked constantly about the possibility of addition funding for Greenways. I am pleased to announce that my Department is currently working on a public consultation document that will be published after Easter that will inform our greenways strategy. This Strategy will be finalised by the end of the year and I expect to be announcing a new competitive round of funding later this year.”
“Athlone and Westmeath are very much at the centre of things when it comes to greenways – we have the continuation of the Royal Canal Greenway from Mullingar to Ballymahon in Co Longford as well as the Old Rail Trail and we are working on completing the sections in Kildare and Meath so that by 2018 it will be possible to cycle from Dublin to Athlone almost entirely off-road.”
“Our ambition is to complete the Greenway all the way to Galway and I hope that those who are currently opposed to Greenways see the benefits to the entire community that the Old Rail Trail has brought to those in County Westmeath and realise the benefits that could accrue to Galway and Roscommon.”
Longford/Westmeath Independent Alliance TD, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said the new Greenway will not only benefit people living in the area but tourism in the region.
“It will attract new people to visit the area. It is also providing an amenity for local people to walk and cycle on and it is also making it easier and safer for people to cycle to work and school,” Deputy Moran said.
Deputy Moran said the next stage of the Greenway includes a new cycle bridge across the Shannon at Athlone.