Kildare County Council in conjunction with Laois County Council and Waterways Ireland have announced the commencement of works to the proposed Barrow Blueway.
This will run from Lowtown in Kildare, through the towns of Rathangan, Monasterevin, and Vicarstown to Athy.
The news comes after government funding more than €5 million was secured last year.
The planned upgrade is to provide a multi-use shared 46km off-road, flat accessible, public space and leisure route.
The proposed upgrade will improve access to the beautiful Barrow Way, to include walkers, cyclists, wheelchairs users and families.
When the works are complete it is anticipated that the upgraded towpath will become a Blueway.
The proposed works are to commence on July 15 at Milltown Bridge, approximately 3km north of Athy, with localised closures to facilitate the upgrade of the towpath.
The duration of works along the towpath this year will be around 16–18 weeks.
The works will be carried out in accordance with all Environmental and Planning Conditions and under the oversight of an Ecological Clerk of Works, to ensure any potential negative environmental impacts are avoided and ecological mitigation is implemented in accordance with legislation and best practice.
This top tourist attraction is due to be complete early 2022 and will offer exciting opportunities for both recreation and ways to experience many of the community’s interesting places from new perspectives.
This project is funded by the Government of Ireland under Project Ireland 2040.
Local Senator Fiona O’Loughlin, who is from Rathangan, welcomed the news.
She said: “The Blueway will breathe new life into these towns and is due to be completed in early 2022, giving us a great new recreation amenity for ourselves and a top tourist destination for visitors.
“Well done to all who have worked so hard on this project to bring it to this point, all the officials in both Kildare and Laois County Councils and all the voluntary and community groups who have worked tirelessly on it.
“There was great enthusiasm and a willingness to work together shown by these groups and by the people who attended the public meetings I held on the matter.
“I look forward to seeing the project progress and to using the Blueway in the future with family and friends.”