Fears objections will further delay Kerry cycleway

Despite campaigns, only 2km of greenway has been built in Kerry
Fears objections will further delay Kerry cycleway

Concerns are being raised that no major greenway has been built in Kerry despite a number of plans for such projects over many years.

Objections are being raised to a deviation proposed by Kerry County Council on the long-awaited Tralee to Fenit cycle and walkway.

The fears are the amendment will further delay the 11km route along the old railway. Concerns are also being raised that no major greenway has been built in Kerry despite a number of plans for such projects over many years.

The Tralee-Fenit cycle and walkway along the old CIE line from the western seaside port and village to the county town has gone out for further public consultation to provide for a deviation from the line at Bawnboy at the eastern end.

Despite campaigns, only 2km of greenway has been built in Kerry, the Friends of Tralee-Fenit Greenway submit to Kerry County Council in the consultation process which closes on Friday.

They fear the amendment will delay the plans to have what will be a commuter as well as a tourist route open in 2021 and will add to the cost.

“We formed a pressure group nine years ago in 2011 to advocate advancement of the objective (in the Kerry County Development Plan for the greenway from Fenit). This was against the backdrop nationally of similar successful high-profile greenway developments in Limerick, Mayo, Cork and Waterford," the group says.

"The 2km urban section of the line within Tralee completed in two states in 2013 and 2015 is the only dedicated greenway on disused railway that has been developed in Kerry."

The Fenit line closed in 1978 but remained in the ownership of CIE and was later transferred to the council.

The objectors say the section of the 133-year-old line that will be lost in the amended plans is "the natural sweep from the shared line leaving Tralee to Clogherbrien Bridge". 

The new section will be "a zig-zag" and will add to the journey. The group also raise questions as to why the council needs to abandon the original line, saying this will set a precedent.

The Kerry Cycling Campaign, a lobby group for cycling facilities in Kerry, is also opposed to the diversion from the original line, with spokesman Anluan Dunne saying it will "add to journey times as well as to the cost.” However, Kerry County Council said the "slight deviation" will not add to cost or delay. The development is currently subject to a Part V111 consultation and "a report will be presented to councillors in the Tralee MD later this month", a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a decision has yet to be announced on the oral hearing into planning and purchase of lands for the South Kerry Greenway, the 32km flagship project along a rail line closed in 1960 and announced in 2014 by then minister for state Alan Kelly with great fanfare.

Most of the South Kerry line from Glenbeigh to Renard reverted to private ownership. The decision by the county council to acquire the holdings using the compulsory purchase order process, normally reserved for major infrastructure, has proved controversial. The oral hearing, which extended for four weeks in Tralee, took place almost a year ago.

The Green Party in Kerry is this week also calling for a dedicated cycling officer to be appointed to oversee €1.5m in grant aid for projects in Tralee and Killarney in the active travel scheme and to ensure their speedy delivery.

To date the council had failed to deliver high-quality cycling and walking infrastructure, Anne-Marie Fuller of the Green Party in Tralee claimed.

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