Sunday 18 March 2018

Transport: Consultants get priority over vital road repairs

Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent

DRIVERS are returning to the bad old days of potholed, dangerous roads -- but there's still loads of money for transport consultants.

Across-the-board cuts in the maintenance of national, regional and local roads for local authorities running into millions were announced in the Budget. But, bizarrely, the Department of Transport is still getting €600,000 for "consultancy services and value for money and policy reviews".

Local authorities already struggling to pay for gritting during the big freeze -- some have very little cash to pay for repairs from the cold snap last January -- will soon run out of money to fix the roads.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan yesterday gave them cold comfort with a €424m cut in roads spending.

More than €30m has been cut from the maintenance and improvement of regional and local roads. The capital provision for the main national roads is down an alarming €394m for next year, the biggest spending cut in years.

Yet, in a twist certain to anger motorists, the €600,000 allocated for consultants and value for money reviews is only a fraction less than the €661,000 in last year's Budget.

And the Road Safety Authority has been told it must introduce efficiency savings to make up a €5m cut, or increase the cost of the National Car Test and other services it provides.

Public transport has also been clobbered with Iarnrod Eireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann losing €13m of its subvention. If savings are not found, commuters could face higher bus and rail fares.

Irish Independent

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