Following the transfer of the two North Kerry railways from CIE last year, Kerry County Council has this week begun the consultation process with interested parties along the proposed North Kerry Greenway.
Letters were delivered to residents and landowners adjoining the route which will run from the current Great Southern Trail head at the county bounds to Tralee where it will join with the Tralee to Fenit Greenway.
This is a long awaited development in a project which was originally initiated 30 years ago this year. In 1988 Sustrans was commissioned by Shannon Development to carry out a comprehensive feasibility study on the development of the Great Southern Trail.
The report outlined Ireland’s first planned greenway, over the intervening three decades the entirety of the Limerick section of the route has been converted. While Kerry has fallen behind there has been action on both ends over the last number of years with the opening of the urban section in Tralee and the ongoing clearance of the 10.5km section between Listowel and the Kerry border. A survey of this section is currently being carried out, and it’s expected the design of the greenway will be completed by the end of August then preparation of the necessary planning documentation can begin.
Last year Limerick Council took over the running of the Limerick section of the route from the volunteer led GST Ltd. and plans to invest significantly in the amenity allocating €1.2 million in their 2018 budget to the project. They are currently in the process of re-branding the route as The Southern Greenway, along with the installation of new signage there are also plans to rejoin the Barnagh tunnel to the route which was previous cut off due to road realignment as well as resurfacing the trail. Longer term plans include extending the route right into the heart of Limerick City.
In Kerry the route would not only provide a much needed boost to tourism in the area but would also serve to provide a safe off road link connecting the North Kerry towns of Tralee, Ardfert, Abbeydorney, Lixnaw and Listowel, as well as linking isolated rural communities.
The Great Southern Greenway which if fully developed would be almost 100km in length making it Ireland’s longest greenway. The route will also form part of Trans-European EuroVelo 1 and in time will link up with other greenways such as the Waterford and Mayo greenways in order to provide a dedicated cycle route from Wexford to Belfast along the Atlantic coast, much of the route would be in parallel with the Wild Atlantic Way.
At the July meeting of Kerry County Council Cllr. J. Sheahan proposed that
That Kerry County Council write to the Minister for Transport to negotiate with the TII and recommend that any future road developments along major routes within Kerry will have the inclusion of a cycle lane.
Cllr. J. Sheahan stated while he accepted it is all down to finance we as a Council must insist that the way forward is the inclusion of cycle lanes. We are encouraging people to leave their cars at home and avail of the cycle to work schemes but we can’t offer them safe passage the way our roads are currently designed.
Cllr. Sheahan added that he would like to see Kerry leading the way as pioneers of cycle lanes being in corporated on all major routes.
Kerry County Council have publish a newsletter on the South Kerry Greenway.
The purpose of this newsletter is to update the public and in particular the people of Reenard, Cahersiveen, Kells, Glenbeigh and the surrounding areas of the progress to date on the proposed 32km greenway from Reenard to Glenbeigh. The newsletter outlines the plans for 2016 and summarises the procedures involved in delivering the project.
One of the main complaints of the first phase of the Tralee to Fenit Greenway was the lack of route permeation and linkage with estates it passes, with only one intermediate access point along the whole route, this issue was observed by numerous individuals and groups as part of the planning process.
A prime example of this was at Gort Na Greine where the existing access point was blocked up with industrial palisade fencing despite the fact that at the time of the development this was a well trodden route.
Within a short period of the fencing being installed a few sections were removed and people were able to ‘unofficially’ use the link again , it was a common sight to see people lifting bikes and even children in pushchairs through the gap in the fence.
The ultimate irony here was the fact that the Gort Na Greine road had an existing cyclepath, the white line can be seen runnign down the center of the footpath in the picture above.
It was great to hear that this very issue was raised by Cllr. Pa Daly at the November Tralee Municipal District meeting, and that the fencing will be removed and access restored.
11. Cllr. P. Daly:
That this Council will construct an official gateway on to the Fenit Walkway from Gort Na Greine.
The existing palisade fence and gate will be removed and a new pedestrian access will be provided to facilitate connectivity between the local
estates and the Walkway
Cllr. P. Daly said that he welcomed this reply
Update April 2016
Kerry County Council have finally removed the fencing to allow ‘official’ access onto the greenway from Gort Na Greine and adjoining estates, this is great for linkages along the greenway.
It is surprising that the full fencing was not removed only the part bounding the roadway meaning that pedestrians have to depart the footpath and travel along the roadway, a situation not ideal especially for the elderly, people with pushchairs, and wheelchair users.
At last months meeting Kerry County Council passed a motion to formally support “Staying Alive at 1.5m’ Campaign, which promotes safe driving for Motorists overtaking cyclists. The motion was proposed by Cllr. J.J. Culloty and seconded by Cllr. J. Sheahan with Cllr. Culloty calling on the Council to request the Road Safety Authority and the Department of Transport to change road traffic legislation to require motorists to give a safe overtaking gap of 1.5m between the vehicle and a cyclist.
Cllr. D. Grady allocated €1,000 from his Councillors allocation to print sticker to promote the message can requested that the be used on all council trucks and lorries in Killarney Municipal District.