You Asked: Whats Going On With The Royal Canal Greenway Now?
Its been a long time in the making but the Irelands longest greenway is almost here. So to celebrate the upcoming launch of our new website for the Royal canal greenway, we are providing a comprehensive update on the latest status.
The Royal canal greenway has been keenly awaited as a commuter and tourist amenity but also has been no stranger to opposition and objections. At the eastern end, Dublin City Council plans to provide a 7.1 km cycling path along the Royal canal from Spencer Dock in the City all the way to the Castleknock in Dublin 15. Once finished, the Royal canal stretch is intended to complete the Dublin leg of a national cycle route that leads to Galway (part of the EuroVelo 2 route).
In 2015, the Dublin to Galway greenway project, however, faced opposition from landowners in East Galway and the then minister Transport Minister Pascal Donohoe decided to pause the development of the Galway section and reallocate funding to the Royal canal greenway projects in Meath, Kildare, Longford and Westmeath. These sections of the greenway had planning approval and were effectively “shovel ready”. The minister was said to have been impressed by the Longford and Westmeath councils who, in conjunction with Waterways Ireland, had shown how effective they were in building their sections of the greenway. Major progress has been made in the last 6 months and we are nearing completion of the project. We will break it down for you in this article.
Current Status of the Royal Canal Greenway
Status Update – Nov 2017
The Royal canal is 146 km in length and stretches from Spencer Dock in Dublin to Cloondara in Co. Longford. The Royal canal goes through 5 counties before reaching the river Shannon near Tarmonbarry. The canal makes for an ideal national cycleway as it’s almost entirely off-road and, since the towpath is in state ownership, the project has proceeded without the objections that have been seen in other greenway projects. The Royal canal greenway will allow for the possibility for multi-day cycling or walking trips and also provide a great amenity for local people to use for recreational purposes. There has also been suggestions to connect the Royal canal greenway to the Mayo greenway in order to create a coast to coast national greenway
- Dublin City Council Section: The following update is thanks to Cllr. Ray McAdam from his website. “Dublin City Council has added the upgrade of a road junction to the Phase II programme of works. The initial phase of the tendering process has now been completed with Council officials expecting the second stage to start in November. All going to plan, it is anticipated that construction can begin on March 29th 2018. In terms of Phase III of the project, between the North Strand Road and the Phibsborough Road, the Council has had to review the documentation surrounding the cost of the project, meaning that tender documents should now be issued in December 2017. It is anticipated that the Contractor will be on site before the end of April 2018. The project requires certain approvals from Waterways Ireland.” Phase 4 of the project, from CrossGuns Bridge to Ashtown, was stalled in 2016 due to the lack of planners caused by the Luas cross city project.
- Ashtown to Castleknock Section: Completed June 201
- Castleknock to FCC/KCC (Dublin/Kildare) Border – feasibility done, Fingal County Council are about to complete the tendering process for a design engineer for the deep sinking portion which is likely to be costly and there are some concerns for the environmental impacts of heavy construction in this area – indications are that it may be a further 2 years before this section is complete.
- Dublin/Kildare Border to Maynooth – feasibility done – next stage preliminary design – no further update available.
- Maynooth to Kilcock (Chambers bridge) – The work from Maynooth Harbour to Chambers Bridge is due to complete in the second week of November 2017, with further works at Bailey’s Bridge to be completed later in the spring of 2018.
- Kilcock greenway (Chambers bridge to Spin bridge): Completed Dec 2016
- Kilcock to Ferns Lock: Waterways Ireland are carrying out works from Spin Bridge, just west of Kilcock to Ferns Lock
- Ferns Lock to Cloncurry: there is a delay with the work from Ferns Lock to Cloncurry as a new Part 8 was required and it was hoped there will be an update on this in the coming weeks.
- Cloncurry Bridge to the Blackwater Aquaduct: Meath County Council are currently finalising this section.
- Aquaduct to Moyvalley (Fureys Public House): Kildare County Council and Waterways Ireland are working on this and this work is sixty per cent complete but the section cannot be completed until spring 2018.
- Moyvalley to Westmeath: Meath County Council had completed the section from Moyvalley to Westmeath and Westmeath County Council has finished the remainder of the work as far as Athlone.
Westmearth/Longford border to Cloondara: Westmeath to Ballymahon completed summer 2017. Kenagh (Mosstown) to Kilashee is under construction. Working is also progressing from Foigha Bridge to Mosstown and they are expecting to do Longford Bridge to Archie’s Bridge before the end of the 2017. Longford council are awaiting funding to complete the section from Archies bridge to Foigha (Mullawornia) but hope it will be done for Easter 2018.
Now that we are nearing completion of the Royal canal greenway we can get a better idea of the surface of the cycleway. Followers of greenway developments will be aware of the divisive nature of the discussion on greenway surfaces. Some people have looked for a commuter friendly surface with highly finished asphalt surface. While others had concerns for the visual impacts of such a highly engineered surface. Now that much of the surface is down we can report that the councils have tried to achieve a balance which may not suit everyone but is the most pragmatic approach. In most places the surface is unbound stone surface with quarry dust for pedestrians and cyclists. Here are some photos of the recently completed sections.
The Royal Canal Amenity Group (RCAG), who’s objective is to promote the canal as recreational amenity, has joined forces with the greenway councils to help promote the greenway. The RCAG and Longford council will be launching their new website https://royalcanalgreenway.ie in Spring 2018 which aims to promote businesses and tourist facilities along the route. We are currently looking for businesses that are interested in listing their services to greenway users on our website. Interested businesses are welcome to contact us and join us in helping to develop Ireland’s longest greenway.