The reclassification of a number of roads in the county due to the opening of the Gort to Tuam motorway has been criticised by councillors because of a lack of funding available to Galway County Council to maintain these roads.
It was announced earlier this month that sections of the N17, N18, N63 and the N66 would be downgraded. These include the N17 between Tuam and the M6, which will become a national secondary route. The N18 between Claregalway and Oranbeg and another section between Kilcolgan and Gort will be downgraded to regional roads. The N63 between Annagh Hill and Loughgeorge and the N66 Gort to Loughrea road will also become regional routes.
This means these roads will then come under the remit of Galway County Council and there will be a significant drop in maintenance funding from Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII ).
Director of services Liam Gavin said the council had submitted a request to the TII for funding of €16 million to cover the cost of overlaying these roads but as yet had got no response to that proposal.
A number of councillors condemned the state of roads around the county. Loughrea representative Moegie Maher called the old Dublin Road between Oranmore and Ballinasloe a ‘deathtrap’. He said it was a ‘joke’ that these roads were being downgraded into the council’s remit without the mention of any extra funding to go along with it. “If we reclassify these roads, we may as well close up shop, we are wasting our time.”
Independent councillor Jim Cuddy said the issue isn’t the downgrading of the roads, the issue is the lack of funding for repair work once the reclassification occurs. Fellow Independent representative Michael Fahy said he was disappointed with the decision. “Roads we are already in charge of will disintegrate completely if we are to put money into roads that have been downgraded. Nobody is listening to Galway County Council, the public are fed up to their ears with the way they are being treated. It seems to be civil servants from Dublin that are dictating terms to us all the time.”
Kinvara councillor Joe Byrne alluded to the fact that it is quite normal for roads to be reclassified when a motorway in the area is developed, but he said a message had to go out that these roads could only be handed over to the council in a fit state. “We need these roads to be given to us in a condition that they don’t need to be touched for between 15 and 20 years.”
Director of services Liam Gavin said he believed the county had done quite well when it came to the reclassification of roads. “We retained the N83 and N67 as National Primary Routes so that was a positive. We have requested additional funding in the event of being reclassified. That has not been granted at this point in time. We will continue to make submissions for extra funding.”