No money to fix killer roads
Cash crisis forces NRA, councils to scrap plans
THE country's most dangerous roads will not be upgraded because of the Government cash crisis.
Eight key stretches of the national roads network have been identified as carrying the biggest risk of serious and fatal collisions, but plans to upgrade them have been shelved.
An Irish Independent investigation has found that stretches of killer roads across the State won't be upgraded for years because the National Roads Authority (NRA) and local councils have no money.
Despite the Department of Transport allocating more than €400m this year for road improvements, most of the money is being diverted to repairing surfaces damaged during the 'Big Freeze' and flooding crisis last winter.
An analysis of data by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), covering a four-year period, shows how eight roads feature more than others in fatal and serious injury crashes based on the number of journeys on them.
These are: the N53, which runs through Louth and Monaghan; the N87 in Cavan; the N14 in Donegal; the N69 between Limerick and Kerry; the N81 from Carlow to Dublin via Wicklow and Kildare; the N30 in Wexford; the N29 in Kilkenny; and the N58 in Mayo.
Despite promises to locals that the roads would be upgraded, the local authorities privately concede they simply don't have the money.
An NRA spokesman last night admitted major road projects had been put on hold because of the budgetary situation.
"We are in a new fiscal era. Those restrictions are real and limiting in terms of what we can accomplish over the next year or so," he told the Irish Independent.
Analysis of data from the RSA reveals the roads that consistently have high collision rates.
Between 2005 and 2008 -- the most recent years for which data is available -- some 412 people were killed on the national roads network.
Automobile Association corporate affairs director Conor Faughman said that although much had been achieved in building new roads, a lot of the country's 100,000km road network was not safe.
"The country still has barely adequate road infrastructure, particularly on the dangerous secondary roads," he added.
The NRA has already suspended 40 major road projects, and been told to re-prioritise another 80, because of cutbacks.
Funding for roads is likely to be cut to €800m a year from 2011 -- half of the €1.68bn allocated for 2008.
Much of this funding will be used to repay the costs of building the motorway network.