Concerns about the ability of locals to effectively commute along the proposed new Grand Canal Greenway have lead to two submissions to planners about it.
The Greenway is a proposed cycling path along the Grand Canal. There are two key concerns, namely the route that the Greenway will take in the village of Sallins, and how accessible it will be to the town of Naas after it heads westwards out of the village.
“It’s a safety issue,” says Bill Clear who has campaigned for years for a greenway linking all of the residential areas and schools of Naas, Sallins, Johnstown and Kill to each other.
“It’s about school children being able to get to school safely,” he said, adding that the new secondary school in Millennium Park will effectively be the school for Sallins.
He believes that in order to allow children approaching the Greenway from the Clane side of the canal to get to school in Naas, there must be a bridge across the canal at Soldier’s Island that links up with the towpath, and eventually a further greenway, that goes into Naas.
Soldier’s Island is in the canal at the junction between the main route of Grand Canal and the spur into Naas.
“The experience of other Greenways, which are aimed at tourists, is that most users are actually school kids and other commuters,” he added.
Sallins Community Council also believes that it is essential to connect the proposed greenway to Naas spur.
“This would require the development of another footbridge that could facilitate greenway users, connecting them to the Naas route,” a statement from Sallins Community Council said in its submission to the Part 8 process.
Mr Clear, who is set to contest the local elections for the Social Democrats said that he had been told by County Council officials that a bridge would cost up €600,000. However he said that he got a quote from a company which specialises in these structures for €88,000 plus VAT.
Mr Clear also believes that another bridge is required at the back of Oldtown Demesne. Both he and Sallins Community Council are concerned about how the Greenway will make its way through the village of Sallins.
Because there is no towpath under the existing bridge in Sallins, and the cyclists need to cross the busy Clane to Naas Road, the current plan aims to divert the cyclists away from the canal and out across the canal at Nolan’s Butchers.
“It is essential that this area be redesigned to ensure that greenway users and local residents have safe passage,” Fergus Carpenter on behalf of Sallins CC explains.
Sallins Community Council (SCC) has requested that Kildare County Council pays particular attention to road safety on the proposed greenway route along Chapel Lane, especially with regards to pedestrians and cyclists using this section of the greenway. Current hazards include cars parked on both sides of a narrow road, busy through traffic during GAA training/match events and a large volume of children and young students that regularly use the route to go to school.
SCC has also called for clear bilingual signage around the town centre, greenway, train station and Waterways areas to help walkers, cyclists and commuters that are visiting the town. Directions to the public amenity space, to the train station, to bus stops and to Naas, Clane etc. should be clearly marked.
They also believe that a connection from the new Sallins bypass bike paths should be made to the greenway where they cross over.
And they conclude by calling on the the Grand Canal greenway project team to “recognise the unique opportunity to create a distinctive visitor experience in Sallins as part of the overall design.
“A number of different projects and initiatives are committed to or planned for Sallins during the coming years that will breathe new life into the town, such as the bypass, town centre regeneration, the 33 acres Sallins Community Park, a new children’s playground and a new multi-purpose community centre to be developed on the amenity lands.
Today, Wednesday, January 15 at 5pm was the deadline for submissions.