To coincide with the opening, the Moate Action Group is holding a ‘Cycle Fest’ on Sunday week. It is to kick off at around 1pm, when the official opening is over.
Also happening is a cycle challenge in aid of LARCC. Registration is from 8am at Columb Barracks, and the cycle is to start at 9am.
For anyone interested in taking part, or anxious to find out more detail in advance, the people with all the answers are at: 087-6443742, 086 8769902 or 087 8041882.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport confirmed that the Midlands Greenway would be opened by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny on October 18, when responding to a parliamentary question by Deputy Troy last week.
Westmeath County Council director of services, Barry Kehoe, says the opening is to take place at Moate at midday on Sunday next.
“We’d like the chance to thank him [Mr Kenny], as the money for this came from the Economic Stimulus Fund,” he stated.
Tarmacadam has been laid along the entire route from Mullingar to Garrycastle in Athlone, and between now and the opening, the focus is on the presentation of the two former railway stations on route, at Castletown Geoghegan and Moate.
“We’re also dealing with fencing issues or safety issues and doing some landscaping as well, and putting in the ‘soft infrastructure’ – signage, information boards and seating areas,” he said.
The stations are getting a visual makeover, with repairs to windows, guttering and roofs, and in the longer term, the council will be issuing a call for expressions of interest from groups or individuals interested in leasing space, perhaps for the creation of coffee shops there.
Mr Kehoe agreed that at the moment, those arriving by car to use the greenway aren’t well served.
“We’re building a car park in Clonmore, beside the bridge, for people who want to use it, and one at Castletown Geoghegan station and one at Moate station,” he said.
The council is also looking at opening up further access points to the track and will be engaging in discussions with communities on lands for use for parking.
“This will be a work in progress – for years,” said Mr Kehoe.
“Additional facilities will come on stream over time, including links to other places, and facilities for people who want to use it will all be developed over the long term.”
He said there will also be a fair bit of maintenance involved, in order to keep the vegetation from impinging on the track.
While the track is not yet officially open, large numbers of people are using it already.
At a recent meeting of councillors, Cllr Paul Daly raised a query on whether there would be speed limits in place. Others have also expressed concern over whether leisure cyclists and walkers/joggers will find themselves having to watch out for and give way to high-speed cyclists.
“It’s not built for high speed cycling, or for big groups,” is Mr Kehoe’s response, saying it was aimed more at family-type groups, or people who enjoy leisurely cycles in the countryside.
“It’s not for people who want to try and get from A to B in the best possible time.”