AN agreement has been reached between Mayo County Council and an Achill landowner to allow the Great Western Greenway to be extended to avoid cyclist entering a busy road.
The greenway into Achill currently finishes before it reaches the end of the old railway line at the entrance onto the island. However, the greenway will be now extended into the heart of the village of Polranny.
The cyclists and pedestrians using the greenway will now exit onto the main road close to the GAA pitch, which will be governed by a 50km per hour limit. This is approximately 150 metres from the bridge leading onto the island.
At present users of the greenway have to have to join the main R319 road to complete the journey onto the island, forcing them to walk or cycle close to a kilometre along the 80km road before the speed limit is reduced.
Cyclists have to cross the busy road at a location that does not offer clear visibility of approaching traffic. While there have been no serious accidents so far, there have been several near misses.
The landowner initially refused to give Mayo County Council access and the greenway could not be extended to the end of the line. However, after many months of negotiations between the landowner, officials from Mayo County Council and members of the community, an agreement has been reached. It is hoped that work will start shortly and be completed before the end of the year.
The news was welcomed by Seán Molloy, the Manager of Achill Tourism, who said the extension will open up the greenway onto the island.
“From our point of view when it is completed it will make a huge difference to Achill. The greenway will now be coming into the heart of the village and it will be a better experience for cyclists and pedestrians. It will also bring new opportunities for people to benefit from,” he said.
There are also plans in place to extend the greenway onto the island and Mr Molloy said he was confident that its extension to the village of Cashel will be completed by the end of 2018.
“Hopefully with Michael Ring now the Minister for Community and Rural Affairs, we will get movement on this. The greenway has been a phenomenal success and the extension onto the island will give lots of opportunities to businesses on the island and hopefully new businesses will start up in the next couple of years,” he said.