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The National Transport Authority has announced €72.8 million in funding for active travel in rural areas.

The money, which is more than the entire cycling and walking budget for 2019, is being spent on projects in 19 local authorities.

It is in addition to €240m announced in February for Dublin, surrounding areas and regional cities.

It is the first ever active travel investment programme for rural Ireland.

The National Transport Authority said it had originally earmarked €50m for the scheme but it increased the funding to more than €70m because of the volume of projects submitted by local authorities.

The three biggest projects are the Ardmore Road Footpath and Cycleway in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, the Bridge Street one-way system in Callan, Co Kilkenny and St Dominick’s Bridge in Drogheda, Co Louth.

Galway County Council is the local authority which secured the largest amount of funding today at €6.2m followed by Clare County Council at €6m, Kerry County Council €5.6m and Donegal County Council €5.3m.

Speaking at today’s announcement Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said: “Today’s allocation marks another significant step forward in providing green sustainable transport options to those outside of the large urban centres.

“Developing high quality walking and cycling facilities will encourage more people to switch to active travel and will contribute to tackling climate change. Connecting communities and making walking and cycling attractive, safe and accessible to everyone is what this funding will help to accomplish.

“The projects being funded today will make a real difference to rural communities across the country and this is only the beginning.”

Anne Graham CEO of the NTA said: “Walking and cycling in areas outside of cities and suburbs is increasingly becoming a more common sight. Today’s allocation will ensure that these modes of transport will become faster and more importantly safer.

“Our partners in the local authorities have worked with us throughout the allocation process and we look forward to working with them through the next stages of development.”

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