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Solution to financing of road repairs is needed

WHILE we struggle, in varying degrees of anger and perplexity, to cope with the consequences of the economic crash, we have just had a sharp reminder of one of the many things that went wrong during the boom, which preceded the catastrophe.

The Government lately thrown out of office in spectacular style built motorways -- belatedly and too expensively, but nobody could doubt the necessity. Meanwhile, however, it neglected the secondary and local roads.

And, as everybody knows from day-to-day life experience, when one thing goes wrong, another follows; and another, and another. For two years running, we experienced exceptional winter weather, snow and floods. This had a disastrous effect on road surfaces.

Now the Department of Transport reckons that we need to spend €2.7bn on repairs to the local and regional network. Not only that: we need to spend another €1.7bn on 63 of our busiest national roads.

That comes, in total, to a cool €4.4bn. A lot of money even in the Celtic Tiger era, a massive frustration in our current difficulties.

Even if the Department of Transport, or the National Roads Authority, or the local authorities, had the courage to embark on a programme, where to find the money?

But somehow a solution must be found. Bad roads -- not only those that verge on the impassable, but any that are seriously in need of repair -- endanger life. We must find a way to "put shovels on the ground".