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Back in May 2020 plans for active travel projects in Newry were mooted by Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon when she announced several 'virtually instant' on the ground projects in Belfast and Derry.

At the time the Minister had said  "We are also working with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council on quick and innovative solutions in Newry that not only promotes active travel but supports our communities facing new challenges and our new way of life, as we adjust to our new normal.”

Fifteen months later and the 'quick and innovative' solutions never did arrive, but It now seems that the green light has been given for one local scheme and the first piece of active travel infrastructure is planned for later this year or at least a good chunk of it!

2km Cycleway/ Footway

Plans are in place for a 2km shared Cycleway/ Footway from the Belfast Road Roundabout at the Mourne Country Hotel through Fiveways roundabout and up towards the Camlough Road roundabout.

The lack of a footpath on this route has been an issue for years and it's provision should go a long way to making the walk or cycle from Fiveways up to the train station a lot safer.  With around 250 houses in the process of being built at Craigmore Way the route will also help access to the Camlough Road and Fiveways for pedestrians and cyclists.

Speaking to a Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said “Design is progressing well on plans to convert the existing hard shoulder to a shared Cycleway/Footway along a portion of the A28 Carnbane Way and the A27 Craigmore Way A28. It runs from the Belfast Road Roundabout along Carnbane Way through the Fiveways roundabout and up Craigmore Way towards the Camlough Road roundabout."

The project was mentioned in a report presented to Newry, Mourne and Down Council last night, Monday 23 where Councillors got an update on local infrastructure projects.

Following the meeting a DFI spokesperson added “Minister Mallon is committed to the delivery of active travel schemes across the north and to making walking and cycling a safer and more attractive option for people getting around. As a result of £1.1m from the Minister’s Blue/Green Fund, we will be progressing a number of active travel schemes in the 2021/22 year involving the construction of a number of shared footway/cycleways."

Other active travel schemes in the Newry, Mourne and Down district include1.6km (of 4.4km) as a first phase on the A50 Castlewellan to Newcastle road and 1.4km (of 2.8km) as a first phase on the A2 Clough to Dundrum road.

Potential for further local projects

£13.5M has already been allocated for active travel schemes in NI and a further £6.5M is in the pipeline. It is hoped that some of this money will include projects locally if support is received from the Council.

The spokesperson added “The Minister is currently considering the full breakdown of funding for the 2021-22 Blue Green fund with £13.5 million already allocated for Active Travel projects and Council greenway projects.  This is the highest level of funding allocated to active travel projects in a single year. The project allocation for the remaining £6.5 million is currently being finalised and will be announced shortly but will include projects in South Down if support is secured from the local council.”

Discussions have taken between Council officers and the DFI regarding a link route between the Newry Canal Towpath and the Carlingford Lough Greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Discussions have taken between Council officers and the DFI regarding a link route between the Newry Canal Towpath and the Carlingford Lough Greenway. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

An outline concept for a dedicated walking and cycling link through Newry City linking the Newry Canal Towpath and the Albert Basin Greenway has been discussed between Council officers and the DFI. It's not known if this will be part of the current funding stream or not.

The DFI spokesperson said "The Walking and Cycling Champion wrote to Councils on 24th June 2021 seeking proposals (by 31st August) for greenway and active travel projects that the Council would wish to take forward and which could be part funded by the Department."

It is planned that a significant portion of the newly announced Newry Belfast Road roundabout towards Camlough Road roundabout route will be completed during the current financial year, ie by March 2022.

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