The Cork to Passage West greenway reopened on Friday after over a year of improvement works to widen the route, make it more accessible and install lighting.
Cork City Council obtained funding from the National Transport Authority to broaden and improve access to the Greenway which runs for over 7 kms from the Marina near Pairc Ui Chaoimh to Passage West in Cork Harbour along the route of the old Cork to Passage West rail line.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Deirdre Forde has predicted the people of the city will be hugely impressed with the upgrade which was aimed at providing a higher quality route for both recreational and commuting pedestrians and cyclists.
“There will be great excitement to see ‘The Line’ reopened and both residents and visitors to the city will be able enjoy an even better and safer walking, running, and cycling route,” she said after the opening of the first phase of the work from the Atlantic Pond to the Footbridge over the N40.
Cllr Forde pointed out that widening of the route from 3 metres to 5 metres and the installation of environmentally sensitive public lighting makes it safer for both pedestrians and cyclists while the upgrading of ramps by introducing a more gradual gradient has made it more accessible for all.
“Over 2,000 native trees as well as shrubs and wildflowers have also been planted along the route and bat boxes have also been installed to enhance its biodiversity in the years ahead,” said Cllr Forde, adding that the upgrade work is ongoing at access ramps at Blackrock Station and the Marina.
Among the most impressive parts of upgrade along the 3.5 kms section from the Atlantic Pond near Pairc Ui Chaoimh to Rochestown is the railway cutting through an outcrop of limestone, just south of Skehard Road which has been widened successfully without losing its unique otherworldly feel.
The greenway follows the route of the Cork, Blackrock, and Passage West Railway line, which opened in 1850, bringing tens of thousands of passengers to ships in Passage West for over 80 years before it finally ceased operations in 1932.
Cllr Forde said that the many bridges spanning the route represent some of the finest examples of stone-cut bridges in Ireland while the Blackrock Road railway footbridge has been reinstalled using the existing historic abutments, access ramps and disused railway platforms.
And she said that the culvert, which runs along the greenway, under Skehard Road, has also been transformed by local street artists working alongside artists from Spain and Brazil. Coloured lighting has also been installed on the underpass, she noted.
Cllr Forde said the current work is just the first phase of the upgrade, and it is expected Cork City Council will shortly submit a planning application to upgrade the lower section of the greenway from Mahon across the Douglas river Estuary to Passage West while further tree planting is also planned.
Phase two will also include public realm improvements at the Rochestown Station Platform, realigning of a short section of the Rochestown Road to facilitate the construction of improved cycling and walking infrastructure and the provision of bike storage facilities, bike repair stands and bike parking.