The first example of community involvement in public roads in Westmeath is to get the go-ahead after the council managed to secure an additional €892,000 in funding.
The idea behind this Department of Transport initiative is to allow pro-active communities jump the queue for road maintenance in their area, and raise money towards the work, which the Department will then match.
A total of 10 projects across the county have been given the green light by the council, who will now match each of the sums raised in each community.
The grants range in size from €76,000 at Blackmiles (between Crookedwood and Multyfarnham ) to €1,600 at Hammondstown (on the Meath border in the north of the county ).
The other community involvement projects are at: Baltrasna, Mullingar €40,840; Clonbonny, Athlone €23,400; Moorerow, Dalystown €21,600; Griffinstown, Kinnegad €19,440; Gortumbly, Rochfortbridge €13,400; Curraghbrack, Mullingar €6,000; Carricknagower, Ballymore €6,000; Coolnagun, Coole €3,500.
At the Kilbeggan Area committee meeting this week, council engineer Pat Nally confirmed that the work required will be done this year at both locations, and that: “a lot of this work is done by now”.
He explained the council had allocated €1.79m for road repair in March but had secured an additional €892,289 since then, and this would allow a number of small projects to be completed around the county.
Both these numbers pale beside the National Roads Authority’s allocation of €19m for all the roads that fall within its remit in Westmeath.
Mr Nally also revealed how the mild winter had released an additional €16,000 for drainage maintenance in Loughnavalley.
Cllr Joe Flanagan asked about similar measures to be taken at Market Hill in Ballymore which he said was “practically impassable” during a recent rainstorm.
However, Mr Nally told him that his priorities for spot flooding in the area would focus on the stretch of roads outside Maryland GAA club, and at Uisneach.
Director of services, Hugh O’Reilly, cautioned prudence in this regard by pointing out that at the last full meeting of the county council, stand-in deputy county manager Jimmy Dalton warned of the likelihood of cutting the roads allocation at the next budget, and suggested the impact in the Kilbeggan area to be in the vicinity of €33,000.
He said this would impact on all footpath works, and the reinstatement of the road outside Tyrellspass Post Office.
Cllr Paul Daly asked if the recent good weather had released any further savings.
“It only stopped raining six weeks ago, and temperatures of 26 degrees cause us as much difficulty as minus 10,” said Mr Nally.