Paying roads repair money by kilometre is fairest


Now that the ice has melted and the snows have disappeared, people are really appreciating the opportunity to get out of the house and travel in a manner that was denied them during the cold snap.

However, this now represents a new danger as the ice and cold have left our roads network in the terrible shape. Road surfaces have been ravaged by the ice and grit, and at a time when the country is in the throes of economic misery, our already inadequate network has gone backwards and needs major refurbishment immediately.

Side roads which were often the beneficiary of little more than a bucket of tar now and again are worst affected while the main roads locally (N17 at Rockwood, Claregalway ) and N59 near Oughterard ) have also not been spared the effects of the frost. It was truly shocking to see what damage was caused, and the cost of repairing these roads now represents a major headache for the county councils which have not yet recovered from the problems caused by the flooding crisis.

Indeed, sections of relatively new motorways are said to be feeling the effects of the cold weather with the plummeting temperatures having made the compound mixtures unstable.

Even the new pathways across the €25 million Eyre Square have been left crater-filled as the ice and frost took away large sections of the smooth surfaces.

The problem is common across the country, but here in the west, and in particular Galway the matter is of grave concern becauise of the sheer number of kilometres of roadway that fall under the remit of either the County Council and the City Council. That is why news that money may be allocated on a per kilometre basis will be welcomed by those who need it most, such as the councils in the west.

It was Cork County Council which called on the Government to allocate funding on a per-kilometre basis, arguing that the current regime -- where funds were distributed on a project or needs basis -- was inequitable.

If introduced, the change would benefit counties such as Cork, Donegal, Mayo and Galway, which have some of the largest local road networks in the country.

Potholes the likes of which that had not been seen since Cavan in the eighties have reappeared on all our secondary roads.

Estimates are that the repair of the roads across the country will cost in the region of €150-200million — money that we can ill afford, but we can ill afford to be without safe roadways as well, as the country ties to get back on its feet economically.

The funds will be spent on patching broken surfaces on local roads and filling and repairing potholes.

Many councils are already worried that this money will be taken from the road building programmes, and this would not be desirable, given our need to develop the roads on an ongoing basis. Unless special arrangements are made, the council is right to fear that its entire roads budget could be wiped out for several years — and who is to say this will not happen next winter.


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