Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar announced funding of Ä600,000 to provide a dedicated cycle track and footpath along the Royal Canal.
The section of the proposed Dublin to Galway cycle route from the Meath/Westmeath county boundary to Mullingar is currently under construction, a government minister has confirmed.
The Minister of State for Public and Commuter Transport Alan Kelly has told Longford Westmeath deputy, Nicky McFadden, in response to her Dáil query, that planning for the proposed Dublin to Galway cycle route is being carried out by the National Roads Authority (NRA) and National Transport Authority (NTA).
The NTA is responsible for the provision of cycling infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area and is proceeding with the planning of the Dublin City Centre to Maynooth section of the proposed route.
"The Grand Canal is the intended route for the cycle way from Dublin city centre to Maynooth," the minister stated in a written reply.
"Preliminary design work on the route will be completed in 2013. This will allow robust cost estimates to be developed.
"Decisions on the statutory approval and construction timelines will be taken during 2013, dependent on the progression of the design work and funding profiles.
Minister Kelly said the NRA is undertaking detailed route alignment and design work for the Maynooth-Galway section of the route, with a view to delivering the route in sections, as funding allows.
"The Royal Canal towpath is the selected route for the section of the facility between Maynooth and Mullingar. Design of this section is under way and will be the subject of planning processes in Meath and Kildare this summer.
"If successful, and if funding for construction is available, construction work on this section could commence in autumn 2013.
"The section from the Meath/Westmeath county boundary to Mullingar is currently under construction.
"Route selection has commenced on the section between Mullingar and Ballinasloe. One option that is being examined is the use of the disused railway between Mullingar and Athlone.
"Route selection west of Ballinasloe is at an early stage with constraints and opportunities being mapped."