Cost of road repairs will top €150m, engineers warn
COUNCILS are embarking on a programme of emergency road repairs as engineers estimate the cost of fixing ice and flood-damaged roads could exceed €150m.
Sections of the M1 were said to be "disintegrating" following the big freeze, while local roads in parts of Co Carlow were "almost beyond repair".
One major local authority, Cork County Council, called on the Government to allocate funding on a per-kilometre basis, arguing that the current regime -- where funds were distributed on a project or needs basis -- was inequitable.
If introduced, the change would benefit counties such as Cork, Donegal, Mayo and Galway, which have some of the largest local road networks in the country.
With the total repair bill climbing to more than €150m, fears are mounting that some of the cash may have to be taken from road building budgets.
Some cash-strapped councils in the north and west are worried the repairs could wipe out their key roads budgets for 2010 unless Transport Minister Noel Dempsey sanctions emergency support allocations.
Cork County Council, which is responsible for almost 10,000km of roadway, confirmed it had put in place a €6m emergency repair fund, which it expected to use during the next six weeks.
Other local authorities are expected to unveil their plans in the coming days. The funds will be spent on patching broken surfaces on local roads and filling and repairing potholes.
Cork Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen claimed some local roads had disintegrated to the point where they were "mountain-goat tracks".
A spokesperson for the council said its own resources would be "maximised" in carrying out the works and would be supplemented where required with outside contractors.
AA Roadwatch said roads across the country had been damaged by ice and flooding, leading to massive potholes and subsidence. Among the areas hit were counties Galway, Wicklow, Carlow, Cork, Wexford, Meath, Tipperary and Sligo.
In Co Louth, councillors heard yesterday that sections of the M1 were disintegrating. They said government funding to carry out repair works was essential.
Co Carlow, which recorded the lowest temperatures in the country earlier this month and was hit by yet more flooding at the weekend, has some of the worst local roads in the country with some holes several feet deep. The Kilcarry Bridge at Clonegal also collapsed as a result of the floods.
Meanwhile, Environment Minister John Gormley last night ruled out an inquiry into the country's water crisis in the wake of huge shortages caused by the big freeze.
As households and businesses in Dublin, Cork, Clare and the midlands continued to go without running water, the department said a water supply review was already under way.
"For the past eight months, a review has been ongoing as part of the water investment programme that will examine value for money," a spokesperson said.