A route which goes from Athlone through Meelick, Portumna, Gort, Kinvara and into Galway city has emerged as the preferred route for the Athlone to Galway cycleway.

The developers of the project, including county councils and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), have said this route “uses publicly owned lands as far as possible including Bord Na Móna lands, Coillte forest roads and ESB lands”.

“This emerging preferred route corridor varies in width, being narrow in places, where we are proposing to use existing paths, such as Bord na Móna railways and Coillte forest roads, and broader in areas, where we will need to use privately owned land.

“In these areas, we wish to meet with landowners to discuss the project and explore where a route can be progressed, through voluntary acquisition of land, and along a farm boundary,” Galway County Council chief executive Jim Cullen said.

The Galway-Athlone Cycleway emerging preferred route. \ Galway-Athlone Cycleway

It travels through a wide variety of landscapes, starting at the edge of Galway Bay and traversing along the Burren lowlands, the Slieve Aughty mountains, the River Shannon, and the midlands bogs.

Landowner consultation

Extensive landowner engagement is under way and will continue into 2022, organisers said.

“Following this process, a preferred route will be selected, where the project team can be confident that a route can be delivered with the consent and agreement of the majority of landowners.

“The project team is hopeful that they will be able to progress that process during 2022 with a view to bringing an application for planning consent to An Bórd Pleanála in 2023,” the developers said.

During the development of a preferred route within a corridor, landowners may engage their own agronomist and/or property adviser.

The project team has said it will work with each landowner and their agronomist or property adviser and endeavour to pick the least disruptive route possible, likely to be along the property boundary.

Project liaison officers are available to meet with landowners or talk on the phone to discuss the possibilities and the project team will “strive to purchase land through voluntary agreement, if at all possible”.

Public consultation

Alongside ongoing landowner consultation, public consultation is under way from 8 December 2021 to 31 January 2022.

The project team has said it would like to hear any additional local information on the emerging preferred route corridor that may not be on a map or already known to them.

This local information is vital to inform the project team’s additional studies and design work towards finalising the cycleway route within the corridor.

Detailed and interactive maps, a public consultation portal and other information is available at www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com.

Landowners and interested parties can contact the project team at telephone 091-509 267 or email info@galwaytoathlonecycleway.com.