Funding cuts for vital road repairs spark safety fears
MOTORISTS could be forced to drive on poorly marked and uneven road surfaces – because there isn't enough money to maintain them.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) has confirmed that it does not have the budget to carry out essential maintenance works this year because of cuts.
The admission has fuelled concerns that failure to carry out the works could pose safety risks to motorists and other road users.
The Road Safety Authority says that dangerous roads or road conditions account for about 3pc of all fatal accidents.
Speaking at the Dail Transport committee, NRA chief executive Fred Barry said money for "network renewals" had been slashed by 83pc since the peak. This year, he said, its budget was €300m – half the €600m allocation for 2012.
The network would "wear out" over the coming years, he warned, and the effects would be seen in the road surfaces and road markings.
Mr Barry warned: "If we have a few years of the current level of funding, you will see a reversal of the good work which has been carried out."
His comments come after the Government last month provided an extra €50m in funding to upgrade local and regional roads, on top of the €350m allocated in the Budget.
However, this money is earmarked for local routes and will not be used to finance improvements to 5,500km of national carriageways.
A spokesman for Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said that maintenance of the roads was a "priority" for the minister.
Separately, Mr Barry also confirmed reports in the Irish Independent that 'demand management' – including the possibility of extra tolling points – would have to be considered for Dublin's M50 in order to prevent congestion.
He said: "The choice is to manage demand or have congestion. The primary measure of demand management is fiscal measures, or tolling."
However, Mr Barry added: "There will be nothing happening with this for some time, as the minister has said there will be no further tolling during his term in office."