Phase 2 of The Ulster Canal Greenway (UCG) project is a pioneering move to develop the first sustainable transport alternative for cross-border commuters.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD and the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, have launched the EU INTERREG VA funded €4.95m Ulster Canal Greenway Project. In a pioneering move, the project will see the development of an off-road sustainable travel route between Smithborough, Co Monaghan and Middletown, Co Armagh. Monaghan to Northern Ireland is the second highest of all South-North commuter flows, and Armagh to the Republic is the third highest of all North-South flows.
The project aims to construct 22km of new cross-border Greenway by 2020 and to actively promote commuter behavioural change through a targeted community engagement programme. The UCG project has targeted a 4.5% increase in the number of cross-border journeys via walking / cycling by 2023. The project is designed to connect with the completed Phase I section, which utilises the disused Ulster Canal to provide a highly strategic route linking the east/ west sides of Monaghan.
Speaking at the UCG project’s launch, Minister Ross said “This is a wonderful initiative. Greenways connect communities, promote healthier lifestyles and encourage engagement with the outdoors. They also offer active travel opportunities for both pedestrians and cyclists and have proven to be a major attraction for visitors.”
Adding “I’m very pleased to be launching Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal Greenway here today. Creating a new Greenway involves years of planning, construction and goodwill from those in surrounding lands. But it’s a commitment that delivers back to the community in spades. This Greenway promises to be a major asset to surrounding areas, as it brings the old towpaths of the disused Ulster Canal back into use and extends the Monaghan Town Greenway by 22km in a very welcome cross-border project. By 2020, the Greenway will link Smithborough, Co Monaghan to Middleton, Co Armagh.”
The project is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB). The project is also supported by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in Ireland and the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland. The project partners, led by Waterways Ireland, are Monaghan County Council, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and East Border Region Ltd.