Thursday 19 September 2019

Transport bosses warn failure to invest in maintenance will lead to €600m annual repair bill

M50 Motorway
M50 Motorway
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

Continued failure to invest in road maintenance will result in a €600m per year repair bill.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has warned if the State fails to provide sufficient funding for ongoing maintenance across the national road network, the eventual bill for the taxpayer will twice as much as investing on an ongoing basis.

And TII chairman Cormac O'Rourke has told the Dáil Transport Committee that planners had “consistently underestimated” economic growth, and that congestion was a symptom of economic success.

“Congestion is clearly a growing problem,” he said. “While I know that it is no comfort to those stuck in traffic jams or feeling squashed on the Luas, it is worth pointing out that congestion is a symptom of economic success.”

He said that since the 1996 Census, the population has grown by 1.1 million people. The National Planning Framework published last week indicated growth of a further one million by 2040, but a separate report from the ESRI suggested this figure could be met as early as 2030.

As a result, TII was updating its transport models to assess future growth.

On road maintenance, he said TII had conducted a detailed analysis of the “chronic underspend”, which produced “stark” results.

“The annual spend on asset renewal of the national primary routes has been well short of the required investment level of €140m per annum,” he said.

“Continued underinvestment in pavement renewals for a period of twenty years will result in extensive repairs costing over €600m per annum. This is more than twice as expensive in real terms and in no way, represents value for money.”

He said he was “grateful” that the Department of Transport planned to eliminate the funding gap by 2020.

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