The cycleway bridge in Athlone. The continuation of the cycleway towards Galway is being divided into two separate projects: Athlone to Portumna and Portumna to Galway.

Athlone-Galway cycleway now being split into two projects

The planned national cycleway between Galway and Athlone is being divided into two projects as part of a fresh bid to progress the long-promised amenity.

Under the new approach, a 114km cycleway is to be developed from Galway to Portumna, which would be managed by Galway County Council.

The second phase of the project would run for 83 kilometres, from Portumna to Athlone, and would be managed by Westmeath County Council.

Details of the new strategy for delivering the national cycleway were contained in tender documents jointly published by Galway and Westmeath county councils.

The two local authorities are inviting up to five consultants to become part of a framework for the provision of technical consultancy services for each of the two phases of the project.

It's understood that, due to the scale of the overall cycleway, the same consultants cannot be appointed for both the Galway to Portumna and Portumna to Athlone stretches. This means there's potential for work to take place concurrently on both sections.

A description of the Portumna to Athlone section states that it will join with "the existing Waterways Ireland Greenway section at Portumna Marina, adjacent to the N65," and that "the preferred route is approximately 83km in length between Portumna Marina and Athlone Castle".

This section of the cycleway passes through Shannonbridge and will also include a link that will connect it with Ballinasloe.

The preferred route for the cycleway between Athlone and Galway.

The preferred route for the Galway to Athlone cycleway was announced just over a year ago, in March 2023.

However, the planning of the amenity has been beset by a number of delays and hurdles over the years, including opposition from some rural landowners in East Galway.

The engineering and environmental firm RPS had been the main consultants working on the project since 2019 but last year stepped away from the greenway project, saying its involvement was "no longer financially viable" for the company.

Earlier this year, Westmeath County Council confirmed that its contract with RPS was "mutually terminated" in December.

It's understood that there would be no impediment to RPS submitting a new tender to provide consultancy services for either the Galway to Portumna or Portumna to Athlone sections.

The closing date for companies to submit tenders for the required consultancy services is May 10 next.