Survey reveals almost half of Irish drivers wary of flood-damaged bridges and roads

Almost half of drivers feel unsafe crossing the country’s bridges after the damage caused by recent flooding, according to a new iReach survey carried out for Engineers Ireland.

The findings were revealed at the Engineers Week 2016 forum, ‘Engineering Solutions to Flooding’, hosted by Engineers Ireland fellow and broadcaster Pat Kenny. The forum focused on the recent challenges in this area and the role advanced engineering skills can play in finding solutions to the ongoing threat of flooding.

The iReach survey found that 41 per cent of the public believes the main cause of failing to deal with the floods is that we built on flood plains. Almost one third, or 32 per cent, believe it is down to a failure to invest in adequate flood defences, while 16 per cent say the Government is to blame for mismanaging the emergency response. Just 11 per cent believe Ireland’s ageing waterways infrastructure is at fault.

Of the 44 per cent who feel unsafe crossing bridges, 90 per cent of them think the Government should prioritise a nationwide road and bridge construction and repair programme as part of its infrastructure planning. Almost three in five believe the best way to ensure cover for people affected by floods is for the State to establish its own insurance fund for high-risk areas. Just 17 per cent say people should deal with the consequences of floods by themselves, and 16 per cent believe the State should buy at-risk homes and re-house affected people. The survey sampled 1,000 people nationwide.

Caroline Spillane, Engineers Ireland director general, said: “Recent floods have dented public confidence in the safety of our roads and bridges. Although some investment was recently announced to repair them, we need a proper long-term strategy to replace ageing infrastructure. Some of our bridges, for example, are hundreds of years old. There is overwhelming public support for a nationwide road and bridge construction and repair plan, and these are just some of the issues we are discussing with the key stakeholders we have gathered in this forum today as part of Engineers Week 2016.”

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