The last link of a Dublin-Galway cycleway has been lifted into place over the River Shannon in Athlone as part of a €13 million project originally given the green light more than five years ago.
Designed by the Dublin-based Sean Harrington Architects and Roughan and O’Donovan Engineers, the 104m long cantilevered structure was erected by Co Meath firm Jons Civil Engineering over a five-month period.
The bridge is expected to be officially opened by Minister of State for Transport Hildegard Naughton in early October and final fixes are to be completed ahead of the start of next year’s tourist season. Apart from carrying the dedicated cycleway, there will also be a separate boardwalk on both approaches across the river.
The bridge was fabricated in sections in Spain before being brought to Wansboro Park, a riverside space just north of the White Bridge, which has carried the Dublin-Galway railway line across the Shannon since 1880.
The bridge stretches from outside the Radisson Hotel to the Luan Gallery on the west side of the Shannon, and allows for the extension of the cycleway, which now runs from Spencer Dock in Dublin along the Royal Canal to Mullingar where it joins a 42km greenway along the old Mullingar-Athlone train line.
A €4 million project extended the cycleway by 1.2km through Athlone to the Town Marina three years ago and the route has awaited the completion of the new bridge, the fourth crossing the river in Athlone. Once opened, it will allow cyclists to take a dedicated route north along the west bank of the river before joining up with the old Athlone-Ballinasloe (N6) road which features a bollarded-off route all the way to Galway.
The bridge was developed under the EU’s EuroVelo 2 Project, which aims to promote cycling across member states, and was co-funded by the European Union and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.