According to the Kilkenny People website, an engineer’s report, released under the Freedom of Information Act, raises serious questions about the suitability of the controversial Waterways Ireland “Blueway” plan to replace the grassy towpath along the River Barrow with a hard-surface cycling trail.
In a recent posting here I commented on the issues that he has raised that make the route unsuitable. His opinions will not come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with the route but it is surprising that these concerns have not carried sufficient weight with project promoters, resulting in the project becoming controversial.
It’s fair to say that most people opposed to the proposal are not guilty of ‘nimbyism’ but are doing so through conviction that the proposal is indeed flawed and from a love of the beauty of the Barrow Track. I am sure that the vast majority would support a different proposal that respects this unique riverside habitat and maintains as much grass surface as possible.
Local knowledge should always inform these proposals; the engineer’s report refers to maintenance issues for a hard surface – and that is even without taking into account flood damage that will occur!
I would support the upgrading of the Barrow Track and the benefits it could bring to tourism in the area and for the health benefits attached to outdoor pursuits – walking, cycling, swimming and running on a well maintained grass surface with quality quayside developments in the towns and villages along the route. Carlow County Council got so much right in Carlow Town with the beautiful promenade and park which have truly enhanced the river in Carlow Town. An extension of this development a little further towards the town boundaries and in other towns and villages – Athy, Milford, Bagenalstown, Goresbridge, Graiguenamanagh and St Mullins would give us an international quality riverside development.
As a regular user I have to continue to point out that the maintenance of the towpath is not acceptable and has caused serious damage on long stretches. This has to be addressed. Waterways Ireland need a larger budget if they are to fulfil their obligations to the towpath.
Again I ask – is it not possible to develop the derelict rail line from Bagenalstown to Glynn just as the Déise Greenway has used the old rail line in Waterford? Surely a good solution? There would be no issue with a hard core surface and in fact it could develop into a rally good Loop cycle by using the grass bank from Bagenalstown to St Mullins to give it another dimension!