Government spending on roads not enough to prevent decay

Department of Transport says €324m to be spent on regional and local roads

The Department of Transport has said 1,980 kilometres of road will be resurfaced while 2,035 kilometres of road will  be “strengthened”

The Department of Transport has said 1,980 kilometres of road will be resurfaced while 2,035 kilometres of road will be “strengthened”

 

Government spending on regional and local roads in 2017 will not not be enough to achieve steady state maintenance and prevent the network decaying further.

On Tuesday the Department of Transport announced it will spend €324 million improving regional and local roads around the country.

This combines with funding for maintenance of national roads of €150 million - less than half what Transport Infrastructure Ireland said it needs - to give a total of €474 million.

However Analysis from the Department’s own Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport report in 2015 shows at least €580 million per year is needed to keep the road network in its current state.

In September 2015 the then Government’s document Building on Recovery promised an even bigger exchequer investment roads with €591 million in 2016 and €622 million in 2017, rising to €1082 million in 2022.

The 2017 allocation of €324 million for local roads compares to 2011 when €452.67 million was provided to local authorities “to supplement expenditure from their own resources, for the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads”.

In a statement, Minister for Transport Shane Ross said the 2017 exchequer funding would allow the resurfacing of 1,980 kilometres of road and, 2035 kilometres of road to be “strengthened”.

He added that the funding would also allow a number of capital projects to go ahead.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport pointed out the minister’s statement had alluded to the fact that local authorities were expected to commit their own resources in addition to Government funding.

However a report from the National Oversight and Audit Commission has said many regional and local roads have “large and deep potholes” and show signs of “disintegration of road surface” and “extensive loss of pavement” with “cracking” across more then half the road surface.

In a discussion on the RTE Radio Programme Today With Sean O’Rourke earlier this month Stephen Flynn of the on the the Local Government Management Agency’s Roads Management Office said “minor roads are starting to degrade quite a bit”.

In a statement, Minister for Transport Shane Ross said the funding would also allow a number of capital projects to go ahead, including:

- Bettystown to Laytown Link Road in Co Meath;

- Dingle Relief Road (Phase 4), Co Kerry;

- Sallins by-Pass/Osberstown Interchange, Co Kildare;

- Shannon Crossing in Killaloe, Co Clare;

- Athy Southern Distributor Road in Co Kildare;

- Portlaoise Southern Relief Road, Co Laois;

- Eastern Garavogue Bridge in Sligo

- Grange Castle Business Park Roads in Co Dublin

The Department said a number of road improvements would “support industry and facilitate increased employment” , including those to facilitate the Center Parc development in Co Longford.

These projects also include:

- Sallins Bypass / Osberstown interchange (Kerry Group)

- Grange Castle roads (IDA)

- Western Distributor Road, Sligo (IDA)

- Tralee to Fenit Road (IDA)

In addition, urban regeneration projects getting the go-ahead are:

- Coonagh to Knockalisheen (Moyross) in Limerick

- Eastern Garavogue Bridge in Sligo

A number of critically deficient bridges on regional roads around the country will be fixed, including: Latoon Creek Bridge in Co Clare, Curraheen Bridge in Cork City, Cockhill Bridge in Co Donegal, Thomond Bridge in Limerick City, Ardfinnan Bridge in Co Tipperary. The improvement of the Tallow Link Road in Co Waterford has also been allocated funding in 2017.

Funding of over €1.3m will be allocated to local authorities to continue with the implementation of 30km/h speed limits in housing estates across Ireland, the Department added.