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Worst roads to be revealed to improve safety

NATIONWIDE tests are to be carried out to identify which of the country's roads are most in need of repair.

The National Roads Authority (NRA) has commissioned a Dublin company to undertake the substantial study.

It will involve gathering information about the standard of road surfaces across the country and forecasting which roads are in most need of attention.

The extensive research is part of the NRA's efforts to maintain roads to the highest standard possible and in turn save lives.

A spokesperson for the NRA told the Herald: "It's about forecasting what areas, what roads, are in need of repair. Basically it will be for the whole country."

The data required by the NRA includes three-dimensional spatial co-ordinates, longitude profile, transverse profile, edge of the road profile, surface texture, digital video, road geometry and skidding resistance.

The NRA has awarded the contract for the project to a Rathfarnham-based company called Pavement Management Services.

It would be envisaged that the survey would be undertaken at the prevailing traffic speed next month.

The survey may require traffic management in accordance with the traffic signs manual.

The spokesperson for the NRA said that they will look at "the surface condition and set out what needs to be done and when it needs to be done".

"It's a standard procedure," he said, adding: "We need to categorise roads in terms of which ones to look at first for maintenance and service."

It comes as the Government admitted that extra money will have to be spent repairing roads damaged by last winter's Big Freeze.

Officials had previously insisted that repairs would have to be funded using existing budgets, but this may not now be possible.

The bulk of new investments announced by the Government as part of their infrastructure plan will be on maintaining and repairing roads.

Just three new road projects will go ahead in the next six years.

The 2010-2016 infrastructure plan says: "Six billion euro will be spent on close-out payments associated with the completion of the major inter-urban road routes and delivering a select number of strategic road projects."

Meanwhile, gardai have appealed for motorists to take extra care this bank holiday weekend.