Councillors fear Galway’s national roads may fall into disrepair if downgraded

County councillors are concerned that a number of National Secondary Roads will be downgraded to regional road status once the Gort to Tuam motorway is officially opened.

Councillors fear that there will be a shortfall in maintenance funding which the county council would have to supplement if roads including the N59, N63, N67, and N84 have their statuses downgraded to regional from national.

Councillors stated they would only accept the downgrading of these roads' statuses if Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII ) resurfaced the roads before handing them over to the local authority.

Athenry-Oranmore councillor Frank Kearney said he did not trust TII to hand over the roads to the council in good condition.

"I do not trust the TII to provide any extra resources for us. All the villages along the N63 are totally neglected. There is a lot of work that needs to be done of the N63 and funding needs to be got from TII before it is handed over to us. How are we going to get this funding?

"I think this is a way for TII to wash their hands and hand responsibility to Galway County Council."

Cllr Joe Byrne said; "As councillors we must not advocate for the downgrading of these roads to regional status until they are resurfaced. It is vital that the work is done this year."

Cllr Moegie Maher cited the state of the N18 as a reason why the council should insist on the roads being resurfaced before taking control of them.

"The Oranmore to Loughrea road (N18 ) has been left in a despicable condition. We were told we would be given money before downgrading. We are not going to have enough money to fund the resurfacing of these roads if TII do not do them before handover. One section of that Loughrea road is costing us €200,000."

In an attempt to allay the councillors' fear, director of services Michael Timmins said there was no formal proposal to downgrade these roads.

"Decisions on these roads will be taken and determined once the motorways open. Speed proposals may be changed but this nothing to do with the roads' statuses."

Councillors responded by asking if the change in speed limits was a Trojan horse for the TII not to provide investment on the county's roads.

Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Connolly said; "Reducing the speed limit on the N63 does not solve the problem of inferior infrastructure. I do not have any faith on TII. I believe this is another stage to decrease funding on secondary and regional roads.

"We have no guarantees from TII to get any funding for the future. A lot of our by-roads are in better conditions that some of these roads. I do not trust TII to do the right thing.

"They will reduce the speed limit in order not to give investment."

Connemara councillor Thomas Welby said the county's roads needed to be upgraded as opposed to having their speed limits reduced.

"We need to upgrade roads rather than downgrade the speeds. This process will probably take a number of years but we should be looking upgrade the N59 rather than downgrading speed limits."

Cllr Niamh Byrne queried; "If we reject the proposals will we be heard or ignored?"

In response Mr Timmins said TII is implementing the Department of Transport's guidelines in relation to speed limits.

"They examine roads and determine speed limits in accordance with department’s guidelines. The TII's remit is to improve roads and not downgrade them."

Mr Timmins continued; "For new speed limits to be introduced the consent of gardai and the approval of TII and the locally elected members must be reached. If members in the chamber do not adopt the proposed speed limits, they will revert to the speed limit for national roads which 100km per hour.

"For regional and local roads, the speed limit is agreed between the gardai and the locally elected members."

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