The Galway to Athlone cycleway will complete a car-free corridor between Galway and Dublin for cyclists and walkers. The project is being led by the local authorities, Galway City Council, Galway, Roscommon, and Westmeath County Councils. RPS have been appointed as the engineering and environmental consultants to assist the local authorities in bringing the project through the option selection, preferred route selection, design and environmental evaluation, and statutory planning processes.
In 2020, the project team identified a study area for the project within which route corridors for the cycleway would be chosen. The study area stretched from Galway to Athlone, and included areas bounded by Tuam and Ballygar to the north and Gort and Portumna to the south study. The first public consultation on the study area was held in August 2020.
Subsequently, five route corridors were identified within the study area. The second public consultation on these five route corridors took place in January 2021. Following a desk based assessment of the route corridors and a review of the public consultation submissions, Route Corridor No. 5 (Red Route) was chosen as the Emerging Preferred Route Corridor (EPRC).
The EPRC was published in December 2021 and the third public consultation was held from 8th December 2021 to 28th February 2022, to gather the public's comments on the emerging preferred route corridor option.
Following the publication of the EPRC, the project team including dedicated Project Liaison Officers, commenced consultations with the directly impacted landowners. This is the fourth public consultation process. It involves meeting with and discussing the cycleway with individual landowners to determine a route that:
- Meets the Government’s five ‘S’ criteria - Scenic, Sustainable, Strategic, Segregated and lots to See and do, in conjunction with environmental, engineering and financial considerations.
- Uses state-owned land where possible,
- Follows land ownership boundaries and reduces severance where possible,
- Provides a continuous route from Galway to Athlone end-to-end.
A preferred route has now been identified for the cycleway. Detailed maps are available to view in the Virtual Consultation Room. The following infographic gives an overview of the preferred route. Providing maps to landowners is part of the process of ongoing engagement and facilitates informed discussions with landowners willing to engage with the consultation process; and does not imply acceptance or agreement of the preferred route on lands.
Following the publication of the preferred route, detailed engineering and environmental designs and assessments are being undertaken. This involves walk-over surveys, site investigations, and other surveys including topographical, river/ watercourse, and potentially archaeological investigations.
It is anticipated that a planning application for the project will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála in the second half of 2024 following completion of the engineering and environmental designs and assessments. An Environmental Impact Assessment Report and a Natura Impact Statement will be published with the application to An Bord Pleanála.