Monday 24 June 2019

Calls for more funding to repair weather-damaged Cork roads

Cork County Council’s director of road services, Tom Stritch
Cork County Council’s director of road services, Tom Stritch

Bill Browne

A senior Cork County Council official has said he hoped additional funding would be made available from central government to help cover the cost of road repair works in the wake of the recent bad weather.

Tom Stritch, the Council's director of roads services, said that it would take some time to assess the full total of the damage caused to Cork's road network by Storm Emma. 

"As we receive reports over the coming days we will be able to put together an accurate picture of the damage caused and the cost of repairs," said Mr Stritch. 

"So far, we have yet to get any reports of significant damage but that could change as the build up of snow and ice, particularly in rural areas, continues to recede over the coming days," he added. 

Mr Stritch said it was important to note this was an ongoing problem with last week's storm only serving to exacerbate the damage caused by the prolonged bad weather over the course of the winter.

"There has been significant damage caused to many road surfaces and footpaths, many of which have suffered serious deterioration over recent months," he said.

"We will have to address this whole issue and would certainly be hoping that additional funding would forthcoming from the exchequer to help bolster our existing finances as a fuller and more comprehensive picture emerges." 

Meanwhile, local politicians have been vocal in their calls for a supplementary budget to be put in place to help the Council repair damage to its roads network. 

Cork East Fianna Fáil TD Kevin O'Keeffe called on Transport Minister Shane Ross to come up with the necessary funding without delay. 

"The freeze/thaw cycle will see widespread damage to roads and cracks will quickly become potholes under the weight of vehicles.The Minister needs to reassure Cork County Council that a supplementary budget will be made available to ensure roads are repaired and do not cause potholes damage to vehicles," said Deputy O'Keeffe. 

He pointed out that while Council's roads allocation for 2018 was just €44 million, it was estimated that a one-off allocation of €548 was needed to "bring the county's roads up to scratch." 

"Just a few weeks ago, the Dáil unanimously accepted a Fianna Fáil call for an increase in investment to local and regional roads. This is even more urgent now given the recent weather. The Minister needs to secure additional funding as a priority," he said. 

Kanturk/Mallow area county councillor Cllr John Paul O'Shea (FG) echoed a point made by Mr Stritch, pointing out that roads across the county had been "severely damaged" over recent months as a direct result of the weather. 

"It is clear that north Cork has experienced widespread damage, which has led to many people suffering sever hardship to their daily lives as their locals roads have, in some places, been ripped up by the bad weather," said Cllr O'Shea. 

"If no additional support is forthcoming our roadworks and maintenance programmes for the year will be seriously impacted. If this is allowed to happen we will see many of our regional and local roads deteriorate even further over the coming months."