Funding to cut roadside hedges and to cut back verges is down by more than 60 per cent and that’s why the county’s roads are quickly being overgrown by vegetation, angry councillors were told this week when they queried why hedges were being cut in some areas and not in others.
Cllr Jarlath McDonagh wondered if there was a different directive to each electoral area regarding hedge and verge trimming as there was one being undertaken in the Oranmore electoral area. He also asked the Council to empty the cemetery skips which were overflowing and would create a poor impression of the Council for visitors to the graveyards this summer.
Cllr Colm Keaveney asked what were the plans to repair Tuam’s roads after the planned Big Dig, while Cllr Sean Kyne queried how come the Barna Moycullen road disintegrate din the recent heat while Californian roads can stay rock solid all year round.
Cllr Seamus Walsh bemoaned the quality of pothole repairs and urged workers to cut out a rectangular square and fill that in rather than the current method of just throwing material into a water-filled pothole.
Cllr Dermot Connolly then raised the issue of the manner in which people along the route of the new N6 are being discommoded by the construction work which is damaging roads. He said he wouldn’t be part of any ribboncutting or fanfare until these works are done. Cllr Gerry Finnerty was also scathing of the condition of the roads in the South Galway area.
Cllr Tomas O Curraoin queried whether Galway’s old bridges were surveyed, while Cllr Michael Connolly highlighted the condition of the N63. New Oranmore councillor Liam Carroll said that some sort of priority system for overgrown roundabouts and roadways should be encouraged, while Cllr Paul Connaughton said that the verges in the condition they are, more drivers are being forced out into the middle of the roads. “Is it any wonder we have the number of accidents we’re having,” he said.
He was supported by Cllr Malachy Noone who said that hedgecutting is now a safety issue. “People now feel they are in danger when they come out onto a road,” he said. Cllr Michael Maher asked how long it takes for someone whose car is damaged on the roadside to get paid by the Council, while Cllr Mary Hoade asked that the council pre-survey roads so that they know what condition they have to be restored to after excavation work.
Jimmy McLearn and Sean Canney both called for better service, with Canney saying it was time that the shovel was brought back into pothole maintenance. Cllr Tim Broderick asked for each electoral area to have a hedge trimming machine and he [predicted chaos next week when the new section of the N6 (which opens today in Athlone ) will bring a lot of heavy Race Week traffic to the town of Ballinasloe.
Cllr Bridie Willers labelled part of the N66 as a total disgrace while Cllr Eileen Mannion said the road to Cashel and those in and around Clifden town were little better. Cllr Jim Cuddy said that the vast majority of people use county roads yet it is the major roads that are taking all the resources.
Acting director of services for roads and transport Evan Molloy said that pothole repairs tend to be undertaken in bad weather and that this is not ideal. He agreed to have the cemetery skips emptied and said that the Council has a responsibility to defend itself against claims of cars damaged by the roads. He admitted that there is a substantial number of rural bridges which are structurally deficient. He went on to dismiss on environmental grounds a call for the verges and hedges to be sprayed. He said that the poor condition of the roads in Gort is likely to persist as the only money available to repair it is from the limited maintenance budget.
Senior engineer Michael Dolly answered questions on the damage allegedly caused by the N6 crews saying that this was inevitable as there is no gain without pain. However, he aid that the NRA have mad it clear that the contractor must maintain the roads being used to service the massive construction site through the heart of the county.
Mayor Tom McHugh said that it is crazy that this company should be allowed to destroy the roads network and said that monies due to them should be withheld until the Councils get a satisfactory answer. Cllr Feeney said that it was unbelievable that the Council can’t even see the contract and conditions thereof. “They’re tearing a strip through our county and we can’t see the contract,” he said, but county manager Martina Moloney said that this is because the Council are not parties to this contract. She said that this was the first public private partnership (PPP ) in the county and that is a new departure for the council.