Roads authorities left with €100m hole in repair funds
THE National Roads Authority (NRA) has not got enough money to fully maintain the country's new national roads network next year.
The authority is €100m short of the amount it needs, the Irish Independent has learned.
As a result, some work, due to be carried out in 2013, will be postponed until the following year.
And the head of the authority has predicted a major problem in maintaining the new €8bn network in coming years unless funding is increased.
NRA chief executive Fred Barry said that they would be €100m short in their budget for 2013, most of which would be spent on road maintenance.
The authority would be stretching its reduced budget to carry out as much restoration and maintenance as possible over the next 12 months.
He explained that road surfaces had a lifespan of between seven and 20 years, depending on their type.
Because the improved network was still in very good condition, they would be able to manage renewal works next year, although some work would be postponed until 2014.
"We will have to postpone some repair works, but we won't allow any unsafe conditions to develop," he said.
However, Mr Barry warned that if their budget allocation remained the same or fell further after 2014, the situation could change for the worse as road surfaces aged, and the cost of repair work needed then would increase.
"If it continues in the future, then we will be saying there will be a bigger problem," he told the Irish Independent.
He stressed that safety was the priority and they would not allow any unsafe road conditions to continue.
The authority engaged a team of specialist road safety engineers to carry out an audit of 3,000km of national roads, motorways and single carriageways next year.
The engineers will be examining a wide range of safety issues, including the configuration of junctions, and reporting back any unsafe features.
Mr Barry said their list would be used to priortise spending on safety.
The new motorway networks linking Dublin with the other main population centres have been credited with saving lives since they were opened.
Unlike single carriageways, motorways and dual-carriageways are the safest road types as there is little chance of a head-on or side-impact collision.
A total of 45 priority road projects are still suspended on the orders of the Government because of budgetary cutbacks.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has already instructed the NRA to take all road projects to final planning stages and to suspend them at that point.
While suspended projects are to be reactivated whenever funding becomes available, this is unlikely in the capital expenditure window up to 2014.