Funding for local and regional roads down 17%
Minister for Transport says repair and maintenance prioritised given ‘limited resources’
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the repair and maintenance of roads would have to be a “top priority” this year as the department was working “against a backdrop of ongoing limited resources”. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
The Department of Transport has announced that €332.9 million is to be invested in the improvement and upkeep of the State’s regional and local road network this year - a 17 per cent reduction on the figure for 2013.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said the repair and maintenance of roads would have to be a “top priority” this year as the department was working “against a backdrop of ongoing limited resources”.
“As a consequence, new schemes focused on improvement rather than maintenance will be curtailed for 2014. Our priority is to maintain the existing road network, and unfortunately there is little scope for carrying out new road improvement projects,” Mr Varadkar said.
The Minister said he was giving additional scope to local authorities to decide how to distribute their individual allocations and that this would allow them “to target resources at roads damaged by the recent storms” in particular.
Almost half of the total of €145 million is being allocated to support specific maintenance, improvement and strengthening works, the department said, with an additional €40 million being provided for the purpose of surface dressing, which involves the application of a liquid binder and chippings to a road surface.
A further €70 million is being distributed among the local authorities to spend on maintenance and strengthening works at their discretion, with an additional €22.5 million going to councils in urban areas for works on footpaths and roads.
Some €23.1 million is being provided to meet existing commitments linked to strategic and local roads projects; €12.5 million is being provided in grants for matters such as training and speed limit initiatives; €7.5 million has been allocated for bridge improvements, and €6.1 million is to be spent on safety improvement works.
Local authorities are to be informed of their individual allocations from the figure over the coming days.
“The package will allow approximately 1,910km of regional and local road to be maintained, 2,156km to be strengthened, 245 low-cost safety projects to be carried out, and 162 bridge rehabilitation projects in 2014,” the department said.