Phase I of the Slieve Bloom Bike Trail to begin in May
Construction of the long awaited Slieve Bloom Bike Trail is poised to begin, Coillte has today confirmed.
While Fáilte Ireland has left Laois out of its new 'Ireland's Hidden Heartlands' project announced today (read more here), another semi state body Coillte Teoranta is investing heavily to build the mountain bike trail.
The Slieve Bloom Bike Trail has potential to bring millions in tourism income to both Laois and Offaly businesses.
The 73km trail will run right across the mountains from Baunreagh to Kinnitty, and Phase I, half of that distance, is hoped to open to the public in October this year.
Expected to cost €4 million to build, the project received a €1 million government grant last July.
Daithi de Forge from Coillte confirmed today April 12 to the Leinster Express that construction on Phase I will start this May, once the tender procurement process is complete.
"We have selected an applicant but we cannot disclose details until the procurement phase is complete in two weeks. We expect to break ground in May, with construction to run right through until October," Mr de Forge said.
He stressed that the October deadline depends on many factors.
"All going well, the indications are it will be open in October, but there are lots of caveats to that, we need good weather," he said.
Phase I will be some 35kms of off-road, cross-country cycling trails on Coillte-owned forest lands spanning Laois and Offaly.
Phase II will include cafés and bike hire facilities at each end of the trail, in Baunreagh on the Laois side, and Kinnitty in Offaly.
The project is in the pipeline since 2010. A similar trail in the Ballyhoura Mountains in Limerick brings in about 40,000 visitors a year.