Senator Aisling Dolan welcomes the announcement of a final preferred route corridor from the Galway to Athlone Cycleway Project Team. Route 5 from Athlone, Portumna, Gort, Kinvara to Galway has been selected with a link to Ballinasloe town.
There is such excitement to know that Ballinasloe will be the first stop in the West for the Galway to Athlone Cycleway. Ballinasloe or Béal Atha na Slua is the mouth of the crowds, the crossing point of the River Suck and Gateway to the West. We are at a criss-cross of motorways, waterways, railways, walkways and now the Cycleway. It is bringing multi-million euro investment with this historic investment connecting our town.
I think of all the families in this region who will now have a place to bring their children to run, walk or cycle on a Cycleway in the middle of our town and off road through unique bogland landscapes along by the River Suck Callows and Grand Canal.
The extension of the Grand Canal to Ballinasloe opened in 1828 brought barges from Shannon Harbour through Poolboy into Ballinasloe along Harbour Road opposite the Shearwater Hotel. To imagine the Grand Canal would now connect Ballinasloe 200 odd years later as a part of the Galway to Dublin Cycleway - the past entwined with our future
This cycleway will also bring both the Royal Canal and the Grand Canal together as the Royal Canal forms the route from Dublin to Mullingar.
To pay tribute to all the community groups, clubs, schools and businesses who showcased the strengths of our town through such detailed submissions. So many pulled together from the Town Team, Ballinasloe Area Community Development, Ballinasloe Life, Athlone to Ballinasloe Greenway Group working with community groups, Councillors and public representatives from all over.
Route 5 will go from Athlone, through Cornafulla, close to Shannonbridge with a link to Ballinasloe and onwards then to Clonfert, Eyrecourt, Portumna, Woodford, Gort, Kinvara CLarinbridge, Oranmore & Galway through stunning boglands, scenic landscapes and vistas from River Shannon, Grand Canal to the Atlantic sea. Prioritising publicly owned lands and working with landowners by consent.
County Galway and the West is full of treasures on all of the routes. Communities in towns and villages on all the five routes showcased our region and all that we have to offer in the Hidden Heartlands through thousands of submissions on the consultation process. This investment in the NTA Cycleway is a stepping stone to connect in all our towns in East Galway. I have spoken with Minister Hildegarde Naughton on regional funding through Active Travel funds to further develop cycleways and greenways connecting Ahascragh, Caltra, Mountbellew on the Green Route as well as Blue Route to link in with the Battle of Aughrim site, Kilconnell & Woodlawn. In Ballyforan, Just Transition funding will develop a looped walkway & cycleway and this is again another stepping stone to further connections. The Cycleway project team have completed groundwork in these areas identifying potential routes and we can build on this work.”
The virtual consultation will be available on www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com from Wednesday 8th December and people will have the opportunity to provide feedback to Monday 31st January 2022.
This is a momentous and historic day for Ballinasloe and the West as we see our town part of the national and international Cycleway.