Brakes go on EU money for motorway projects

 

As EU money dries up, the National Roads Authority hopes to save €2.3 million per kilometre of new motorway. Patrick Logue looks at the safety implications

The National Roads Authority has said it will have to "cut its cloth according to its measure" when planning future motorway building. The authority is considering the introduction of motorways with narrower central reservations, saving €2.3 million for each kilometre of road built.

Motorways with wide central reservations, such as the M50 in Dublin, cost €10 million per kilometre to build, compared to €7.7 million for their more slender cousins.

The move may be necessary because of a significant reduction in the amount of European money being offered to fund the projects, the current financial situation the Government finds itself in, and the spiralling cost of land necessary to build the roads.

Between 1994 and 1999 Ireland received the equivalent of more than €1 billion in EU funding for road building. This represented 61 per cent of the total spend on roads during that period.

Between 2000 and 2006 the EU will have contributed €800 million to Irish road building efforts, representing only 13.6 per cent of the total during that period. The State will cough up €3.5 billion, while private funds will contribute approximately €1.27 billion to a total of approximately €5.6 billion spent on roads over the six years.

In 1987 an OECD report on motorways placed Ireland last in a list 27 countries. At the time, Ireland had an average of only 100 metres of motorway for every 1,000 square kilometres. Ten years later the OECD placed Ireland 23rd out of 28 countries in a similar report. By 1997 Ireland had 1.13 kilometres of motorway per 1,000 square kilometre.

The National Development Plan continues such development and, with horrific fatal road accidents ever present, the increase in the provision of safer roads can only be welcome.