The final ‘link-up’ of the pathway which runs from Ballymena to Cullybackey has taken place thanks to the re-siting of a railway barrier and its associated control cabinet.
Scores of local people from both ends of the route have been using the path as a ‘highway to health’ walking trail but until recently the total pedestrian link-up had been impossible.
Among those who welcomed news that Transport NI and NI Railways had decided to move the obstructing barrier was DUP MLA Paul Frew.
He said: “This issue first became clear to me in the spring of 2012 when it was obvious that the position of the cabinet and barrier would get in the way of any form of continuous footpath from being constructed. I contacted DRD Minister Danny Kennedy in April 2013 asking him to consider re-siting the cabinet and barrier so that the pedestrian footway scheme could commence, I have been in contact with him ever since then to stress the issue as much as I could.
“To have stopped and started the footpath from Cullybackey to Ballymena would have put pedestrians as well as vehicles on this road in a very dangerous position. The people of Cullybackey need to be able to walk along a footpath without being put in any type of danger.”
Mr Frew paid tribute to Joe Kyle for his long campaign which lead to the provision of the walkway.
He said: “A special mention and thanks must go to Joe who has fought hard and campaigned tirelessly for this footpath over the years. Joe has been of great assistance to me over the last number of years.
“Now that the footpath has been constructed as a continuous route from Cullybackey to Ballymena it is one hundred percent safe for users to walk along without having to step onto the road at any point. It has been a long journey in getting these works completed but now that it is done I would like to stress my appreciation to Transport NI and NI Railways for taking the appropriate action and prioritising the safety of pedestrians despite the hassle and cost of moving the cabinet and barrier.”