Saturday 23 September 2017

Leo Varadkar says no new roads but existing network will get emergency repairs

Minister for Transport, tourism and sport Leo Varadkar TD
Minister for Transport, tourism and sport Leo Varadkar TD
Paul Melia

By Paul Melia

NO new local or regional roads will be built or upgraded over the coming years, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

There was "no point" in building new carriageways at a time when much of the road network is in need of urgent repairs, and extra funding will be made available for emergency maintenance works.

And he said that some €42m would be re-allocated from existing budgets to complete emergency repairs.

The announcement comes because there is a massive backlog of emergency works which need to be carried out across the road network.

There is some 100,000km of local, regional and national roads across the county, one of the highest in the EU per head of population, and outstanding repairs will cost more than €3bn to complete.

However, cuts in funding over recent years - coupled with two harsh winters which caused widespread damage - means the network is not being maintained.

Speaking this morning, Mr Varadkar said it was "obvious" that some road surfaces needed work.

He also said:

-  Some 29 local authorities will be allowed re-allocate €42m earmarked for improvements - such as removing dangerous bends -  for emergency repairs.

-  Another €2.7m in new funding will be made available to improve drainage.

-  This means it will "not be possible" to start any new road projects "in the immediate future".

"It is obvious to anyone who lives or drives through rural areas that some road surfaces are in need of repair," he said.

"As well as the usual winter damage, increasing rainfall levels have caused significant damage in recent years.  Surface water is a particular problem because it undermines roads and causes potholes.

"Because resources are so limited, this focus on maintenance means it won't be possible to start any new local or regional road construction projects in the next couple of years.  While this will be a disappointment to some areas, there is no point in building new roads if we cannot maintain the existing network."

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