Regional and local roads targeted in €315m cutbacks


TRANSPORT:A REDUCTION in funding, with the biggest losers being regional and local roads, of €315 million for the Department of Transport was announced by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey yesterday.

The €315 million is in addition to a cut of €182 million made last February as part of the Government’s package of reductions, bringing the total drop in funding from €3.6 billion to €3.1 billion.

Mr Dempsey said the €315 million cut announced yesterday would comprise a €150 million cut from the €448 million budget for regional and local roads, a €150 million cut in public transport infrastructure and €15 million in current expenditure, of which €5 million was from the national roads maintenance bill and €10 million from CIÉ.

Local authorities will be told in the coming weeks of their new local and regional road allocations.

Mr Dempsey said it had not been possible to cut the national roads capital budget as it was almost entirely assigned to road projects that were under way.

Nor did he announce cuts to the big public transport rail projects, the Dart interconnector or the Metro North, because neither requires funding, other than for planning purposes, this year.

Asked if major budget difficulties would emerge in a few years when the big projects were ready to go to construction, Mr Dempsey said the Government was looking at whether the National Treasury Management Agency could find ways of “keeping these off the balance sheets”.

He cited the Dart interconnector and Metro North, which as public-private partnerships might not require funds upfront. While there might be comparatively small preliminary costs, “once the contractors move in, we don’t have any liability until it is built”.