The River Brosna at Butler's Bridge.

Planning for new walkway to Butler’s Bridge resumes

Work is to re-start on planning for creation of a walkway from Mullingar to Butler's Bridge via the Brosna/Lacys Canal, the Municipal District of Mullingar Kinnegad has disclosed.

The subject was raised by way of a motion by Cllr Andrew Duncan, who asked if a walkway could be constructed, and who was delighted when informed that the district has currently tendered for a feasibility study from Mullingar to Lough Ennell/Belvedere.

Welcoming the news, Cllr Duncan said he had first made such a proposal in 2018, while Cllr Ken Glynn remarked that now that it is to be progressed, he hoped that eventually the walkway could be extended to Belvedere.

The district response puzzled Cllr Emily Wallace, however: she said that in 2019 she had put forward a similar motion and was informed at that stage that the route selection design and detailed design had been undertaken.

“So my query is ‘what happened?” she asked. “If there is a route selected and there is a detailed design, we have never seen it.”

Cllr Hazel Smyth was also keen to see the project progress, but wondered why a feasibility study was really needed, especially since it represented more expenditure on consultants.

“I feel like we spend a lot of money on that,” she said, asking an engineering report would not suffice.

Cllr Glynn said the stretch reminded him of the cycleway between Newport and Westport and wondered whether it would be worth seeing if anything could be learned from their experience.

County engineer Pat Kavanagh confirmed there had been “a very basic route looked at”, but the reason the council wanted to bring consultants on board was various laws and environmental regulations have changed and because of archaeological considerations as well as the engineering requirements.

“Sometimes you can just select a route and go for it and then find you run into big problems. So that’s the reason we look for a feasibility study because there is a cost element to it. We try to avoid the road if possible: walking on the road – especially in rural areas – and cycling is not ideal; it’s sort of a last resort. So the feasibility study is really needed,” he said.

Cllr Duncan said he did not disagree with Cllr Smyth on her point about the feasibility study, although he accepted Mr Kavanagh’s point, it was frustrating that it was now six years on from his original motion. “I thought I had made quite significant progress at the time,” he said.