TENDERS are being sought for the site clearance and fencing contract for the Midleton to Youghal greenway.
Cork County Council earlier this year announced plans to develop a 23km cycle and pedestrian route linking the two east Cork towns, also passing through the villages of Mogeely and Killeagh.
The route opened as a railway line in 1860 and was still in operation for passenger services up until the mid-1960s. However, passenger trains were cancelled and it became a freight and goods line until the early '80s when it was completely closed. The line has remained idle since with many parts overgrown despite parts of the track, station buildings, bridges and culverts still remaining.
The greenway is estimated to cost between €10m to €15m and will include a new three to four-metre pedestrian and cycle pathway on the footprint of the disused line. The owner of the route, Irish Rail has ruled out reopening the track as a railway line.
This section of the disused railway corridor is broken into three sections. The first is approximately 8.3km in length and extends from Midleton Train Station to the disused Mogeely Station. The second is 4.6km from Mogeely to Killeagh and the third stretches to Youghal over 10.1km.
The works involved in the clearance and fencing contract and will consist of cutting, mulching, trimming, chopping of all materials within the identified seven-metre corridor directly over the location or former position of the disused railway tracks.
This also includes the removal of trees, scrubs and bushes within the disused stations at Mogeely, Killeagh and Youghal.
This contract includes the requirement to erect temporary agricultural fencing and agricultural gates to secure properties on either side bounding the existing disused railway line.
This contract is also to allow for the provision to supply and erect climb proof two-metre high field gates at site entrances off the public road and anti-climb fencing to the site boundaries.
County Hall deputy chief executive Declan Daly said the greenway will be a boost for tourism and will be an important amenity for locals.
“The proposed development of a Greenway between Midleton and Youghal represents a unique opportunity to harness the resource that is the disused railway corridor for the benefit of local towns, villages and communities. The development of the Greenway will serve to maintain and protect the integrity of the railway corridor and allow for its reuse should its viability for rail be considered feasible by Iarnrod Eireann at a future date and, in the interim, it will generate economic, community and environmental benefits for the local population and the wider East Cork area.
"[It] will be an important addition to tourism facilities in Cork, it will strengthen the attractiveness of East Cork generally and the Youghal and Midleton areas in particular as a visitor destination which will benefit the local economy through increased visitor numbers and tourist spend, supporting existing local businesses and encouraging new enterprise opportunities. The proposed greenway will also be an important recreational amenity and will deliver positive health benefits through the provision of quality walking and cycling facilities for the enjoyment of the local population and the wider community,” Mr Daly added.
The greenway route had been opposed by the Green Party who described it as “short-sighted” and said developing the greenway along the disused railway line connecting the two towns will end any chance of reopening the line for commuters and cut off a “key infrastructural link” forever.