Oranmore councillors slam roads funding as ‘minuscule’ and ‘totally unacceptable’
NRA and Department officials told to come down from their “ivory towers” and see results of decisions
The allocation of roads funding for Oranmore has been slammed as “minuscule” and “totally unacceptable” by the electoral area’s county council representatives who insist the system of distribution is unfair and should be based on traffic levels instead of length of road.
More than €41 million has been allocated in total to maintaining and improving the public road network in the county for 2014, representing a slight increase on last year’s total. The grant allocated by the National Roads Authority (NRA) for the motorway and national roads for this year is €23,076,405 which represents an increase of €4,984,588, or 28 per cent on the 2013 allocation.
The grant allocated to the Galway County Council for regional and local roads in 2014 is €18,330,000, which represents an increase of €139,303 on the original 2013 allocation of €18,190,697. However, an additional €3,400,846 was received in June 2013 under the Restoration Improvement Programme for Regional and Local Roads, increasing the total 2013 funding to €21,591,543. The 2014 funding represents a decrease of €3,261,543 or 15 per cent on this revised amount.
Oranmore receives far less than other electoral areas
When the various grants were allocated to the electoral areas Oranmore received the least amount, owing to the fact that it represents only approximately six per cent of the overall public road network in the county which is 6,579km.
Out of the total €8,130,572 for improvement grants Oranmore received just €588,150 for 2014, while Ballinasloe received €2,156,690, Loughrea €2,548,780; Tuam €2,450,750; and Connemara received €2,058,630. Out of the total restoration grant for 2014 of €2,704,000, Oranmore received just €162,240 while Connemara received €567,840; Loughrea €703,040; Ballinasloe €594,880; and Tuam €676,000. The total for the discretionary maintenance grants came to €4,807,000 for 2014. However, Oranmore is to receive just €196,555 divided as follows: €68,375 for regional roads (general maintenance), €18,000 for bridges (repairs), and €110,180 for local roads (general maintenance). Ballinasloe is to receive a total of €792,555, Connemara €796,569, Loughrea €889,782, and Tuam €884,359. The allocation for local road maintenance from the council’s resources, when operational costs are factored in, will come to €2,120,000 with Oranmore receiving €142,676, Ballinasloe €437,992, Connemara €431,208, Loughrea €559,256, and Tuam €558,868.
Roads funding must take account of traffic levels and population
First to voice his concerns was Fine Gael councillor Jarlath McDonagh who said that all the councillors for the Oranmore area are disappointed with the allocation of funding. “It’s minuscule. Loughrea and Ballinasloe have received far more,” said Cllr McDonagh, who suggested that rather than basing the allocation of funding on the number of miles, it should be based on the level of traffic. He added that it should take into account the population increase, a fact which was acknowledged by the decision to increase the area’s representation on the county council from four to seven seats. “I supplied seven roads that need urgent attention and there is only one included here. Cllr Cuddy supplied 14 roads and there is only one included. More recognition should be given,” said Cllr McDonagh.
Confirming that he will not support the draft Roads Programme 2014, Independent councillor Jim Cuddy told the chamber: “The bottom line is over the years the area has received insufficent funds for roads. It makes for very stark reading. All areas are entitled to money but there has to be proportionality.” Further examining the details of the Roads Programme, Cllr Cuddy explained that of the council’s general maintenance budget for local roads maintenance (€2,120,000), Oranmore received just 6.73 per cent of the budget while Oranmore’s town and village maintenance budget comprised just 8.75 per cent of the €800,000 total allocation. “The special roads and improvements grants are carried over from last year so we’re getting nothing really. This is totally unacceptable considering the volume of traffic. The system of allocating is totally false. We’re going to have little or no maintenance at all. The engineering staff are in an impossible situation because they don’t have the resources. We are going to be in a situation in the future where people are not going to be able to travel on the roads,” warned Cllr Cuddy, who then called on the NRA and Department of Transport officials to come down from their “ivory towers in Dublin” and “see first hand the product of their decisions”.
However, responding to criticisms that Ballinasloe is receiving more money Fianna Fáil councillor Tomás Mannion said: “Go out and travel the roads and see the conditions, bearing in mind that the rural people there do not have the same access to taxis, buses, and trains as the people in Oranmore. The roads take the brunt of events like the Galway Rally while city businesses reap the benefits.”
Acting director of services Evan Molloy told the chamber that the system of per mile/km for distribution of funds for non-national network has “served us reasonably well”. He added that a condition survey carried out over the past two years has revealed a common theme of roads in poor condition throughout the county. Regarding the funding for Oranmore, Mr Molloy acknowledged that “it is inadequate but it is in accordance with the percentage length of road”.