CHANGES to the way the NRA distributes funding for roads schemes has put the upgrading of a dangerous section of the N72 in East Kerry on the long finger but Kerry County Council says there's still "reason for optimism" that the works may ultimately be given the green light.
The section of road at Bealnadeega close to Gneeveguilla is deteriorating annually and, despite temporary resurfacing, is locally recognised as being in dire need of a full surface overlay.
At the last area meeting of the council in Killarney, a deputation of local residents said the situation was unacceptable. "The road is an absolute disgrace particularly with all the traffic coming into Kerry every day," local resident Derry Healy remarked.
Responding to the deputation, Senior Roads Engineer Padraic Teahan stated that the NRA last year implemented a new system of assessing pavement and minor improvement schemes, based solely on their own physical pavement testing data.
"Kerry County Council was not invited to make a submission for those schemes as they were decided on a national basis," Mr Teahan stated, adding: "We would have it number one on our list if we were invited for submissions and NRA inspectors are aware of that".
It is understood that the road section did not show up as an immediate priority in NRA test results and therefore no design or construction funding was received in the 2013 NRA allocations.
Mr Teahan, however, believes there is reason for optimism that overlay works may ultimately be carried out and at the meeting he remarked that an overlay scheme could be put out to tender in the near future.
"With respect to an overlay of the surface I'm reasonably optimistic but I have been told that bridge funding is extremely limited," he stated.
The deputation was brought by Cllr Danny Healy Rae who said that residents and road users could not put up with the situation any longer.
"Eight or nine years ago there was funding and water mains were laid and the road wasn't reinstated properly," Cllr Healy Rae stated, adding that the bridge currently located in the area is not fit for purpose.
"Between here and Dublin you will not meet a section like this - lorries have capsized and traffic travelling from Dublin doesn't expect such a blockade on the road," he stated.
Councillors John Sheahan, Sean Counihan, Michael Gleeson, Brendan Cronin and Bobby O'Connell also gave their support, as did Cllr John Joe Culloty who said the road was danger to cyclists.
"It is most illogical to do the road and not the bridge," Cllr Gleeson added.