The Ballinasloe routes identified for the new Galway- Athlone cycleway have the potential to transform the town into a dynamic eco-tourism hub, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Aisling Dolan has welcomed that Ballinasloe features strongly on potentially three of the five route options circulated following the first round of public consultation.
Senator Dolan has now urged local residents to have their say in a second public consultation via a specially tailored online experience that will allow stakeholders and the general public to view maps, project information and express their opinion in a safe and accessible environment.
The website www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com will go live next Monday, 25th January 2021.
Senator Dolan said: “This is a once in a lifetime chance to transform our town into a dynamic hub for eco-tourism. I am so excited to see the route options from the Greenway project team.
“I’m a strong advocate for the Ballinasloe routes and to potentially showcase our unique bogland areas with River Suck and Grand Canal Blueways, in connecting our towns and villages through Roscommon and along by Shannonbridge into East Galway along publicly owned lands by Grand Canal close to Lawrencetown, Lismany, Clontuskert areas and into Ballinasloe town.
“From there we have options to Ahascragh and the Bunowen River, Ballyforan along by the Suck and Mountbellew with the Walled Gardens and Forest Park, or there is a direct route to Athenry as well.
“This region of East Galway has a wealth of heritage, biodiversity and culture as part of the Hidden Heartlands so there is a lot of choice with these routes.”
Senator Dolan continued: “Public consultation will start next Monday 25th Jan and due to Lockdown a virtual online consultation process has been prepared. People can log onto to the website https://www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com/ to view the routes in an interactive way.
“I want to thank everyone who made submissions on the previous consultation, with over 600 on the whole route from Athlone to Galway and 200 of those from my office in Ballinasloe on our sections here.
“I understand concerns from farmers and landowners on the impact of this development. The route corridors are up to a few kilometres wide in areas and this can allow for much engagement and discussion with the project team working with farmers and landowners. By working together and by consensus we can be part of a wonderful opportunity for our local community as well as the potential for eco-tourism and start-up businesses.
“By engaging pro-actively with all groups we will be able to provide the most amazing resource for our families here in Ballinasloe especially as we don’t have a public park, It will also be accessible for wheelchairs and prams.
“This cycleway will be of benefit to so many in Co. Roscommon and Co. Galway and is a crucial piece of national infrastructure that will attract people to consider living in this area as well as future investment.
“It will enhance our quality of life and make Ballinasloe and East Galway a better place to live, work and visit.”
Senator Dolan concluded: “Questionnaires and appointments can be set up with the project team in Ballinasloe by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: (091) 509267. A printed consultation brochure and questionnaire will also be posted to residents, landowners and businesses in these areas. I also welcome any queries or feedback to email@example.com or on Tel: 086 3690719. The closing date for public consultation is Friday 26th February 2021.”