Farm Ireland

Monday 10 December 2018

'I've seen the state of Ireland's roads' - Taoiseach on pothole crisis

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD Photo Gareth Chaney Collins
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

An Taoiseach Leo Varakar has said he travelled the country over the Dail’s Easter break and saw first hand the impact of poor road conditions particularly on people living in rural areas.

In the Dail, yesterday the Taoiseach said he travelled to Limerick, Galway, Tipperary, Laois, Meath, Kildare and north County Dublin over the Easter break.

“The issue of the condition of local and regional roads has been raised by citizens everywhere I go and that many such roads are in very bad condition: there are many potholes and ruts and many vehicles are being damaged.

“That is due to a combination of under investment in our roads during the dark years of the recession - the lost decade during which we did not have the money to invest in our public infrastructure - and also the very bad weather that we have experienced in recent times,” he said.

More than 12,200km of the local and regional road network is now in urgent need of upgrading because it is in "severe structural distress" with deep potholes and crumbling surfaces, which in some cases has resulted in carriageways being "virtually undriveable".

Also Read: 'We drive on what’s left of the road' - Is this Ireland's worst road?

Cllr Robert Beasley beside a pothole. Photo: Domnick Walsh
Cllr Robert Beasley beside a pothole. Photo: Domnick Walsh

A survey of the network by local authorities, published by the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC), suggests that funding for local and regional road maintenance will have to double to prevent further deterioration.

But the report does not take into account the severe impact of Storm Emma last month, as local authorities have yet to fully assess the damages arising from days of sub-zero temperatures.

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The survey rates the condition of roads controlled by local authorities from one to 10, with roads classed between one and four deemed to be in worst condition.

Some 77,740km (82pc) of the 94,405km regional and local road network was surveyed during 2016, the most recent year for which figures are available, and 12,244km (13pc) was found to be in the 1-4 category. This compares with just over 10,000km a year previously.

The county with the highest proportion of regional roads in the poorest condition are in Monaghan at 15pc. Overall, 6pc of regional roads (774kms), 11pc of local primary (2,365km), 17pc of local secondary (4,676km) and 28pc of local tertiary roads (4,429km) fall into the worst category.

The Taoiseach said the total regional and local road budget for this year is €417m an increase of €90m on last year.

“I did some metaphorical digging in the past day or two and discovered that only a small fraction of that €417m has been spent by the local authorities.

“The reason I have been given for it not being spent is that local authorities have not been able to get out on the roads to repair them because of the bad weather. Now that the weather is getting warmer and the sun is starting to come out, I expect local authorities to begin work immediately on repairing our local and regional roads and to spend the €417m that has been allocated to them this year for that purpose”.

He said the Government is also considering an additional allocation on foot of the storm events and we have asked each local authority to come forward with a costing in that regard.

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