Senator Dolan is encouraging people to check out the virtual consultation which is open until the end of January.
Senator Dolan said, “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. This multi-million euro investment into Ballinasloe will revitalise our region and make us a base in the West to join the Cycleway.
“During the five-route consultation process, my team developed videos to showcase the heritage and sights of this region and we held information webinars with hundreds of attendees. Over 1,600 submissions on Route 1 via Ahascragh, Mountbellew & Monivea and 800 plus on Route 3 via Aughrim, Woodlawn & Athenry show the hunger and grá for cycleways, especially on these routes in the Hidden Heartlands. Thank you to all who signed submissions in our office in town and to all our volunteers supporting the cycleway to Ballinasloe. Today will bring disappointment to some, however the commitment and vision of groups to develop this area of East Galway is very clear.
“I think of all the families living in Galway and in the town of Ballinasloe who will now have a place to bring their children to run, walk or cycle on a Cycleway. It will be a place for all abilities and ages to enjoy healthy outdoor activities.
“Route 5 will go from Athlone, through Cornafulla, Shannonbridge with a link to Ballinasloe and onwards then to Clonfert, Eyrecourt, Portumna, Woodford, Gort, Kinvara, Clarinbridge, Oranmore and Galway. It will take in stunning boglands full of wildlife and rare plants and flowers, scenic landscapes and vistas from the River Shannon, the Grand Canal to the Atlantic sea bringing heritage, history, culture and communities together.”
“This investment in the NTA Cycleway is a stepping-stone to connect all our towns in East Galway. We now need further investment to open up accessible safe places to walk and cycle as well as opportunity and rural development for our towns and villages.
“I have spoken with Minister Hildegarde Naughton about regional funding through Active Travel funds to further develop cycleways and greenways connecting towns. In Ballyforan, Just Transition funding will develop a looped walkway and cycleway and is 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 Project Cycleway team and Public Liaison Officers based in Ballinasloe are working extensively with all stakeholders with the focus of prioritising publicly owned lands and working with landowners by consent. The virtual consultation will be available on www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com from Wednesday 8th December and people will have the opportunity to provide feedback until Monday 31st January 2022.
Senator Dolan continued, “The extension of the Grand Canal to Ballinasloe opened in 1828 brought Guinness barges and more from Shannon Harbour through Poolboy into Ballinasloe along Harbour Road opposite the Shearwater Hotel. Now 200 odd years later, the Grand Canal will connect to Ballinasloe as part of the Galway to Dublin Cycleway – the past entwined with our future.”