Transport Minister, Leo Varadkar has said that €40 million will be reallocated within local authorities in order to help fix Ireland’s roads.
The Minister who was speaking on Morning Ireland today, said that this wasn’t new money, however. “That’s just the same money that they can reallocate,” he said.
However next year there would be no budget for improvements on regional and local roads with the focus on maintenance, he said.
An additional €2.7m would be allocated this year to drainage works, Mr Varadkar said. Water “lying on roads” is a large cause of deterioration, he said.
There is a “real and growing problem” with local roads, particularly tertiary roads and regional roads in some rural counties, Mr Varadkar told RTÉ Radio.
The reason for the problem was because local authorities and the Department of Transport “haven’t had enough money” to maintain the roads as they wanted.
The transport minister said that he was calling on local authorities to put more of their discretionary expenditure into the roads, but said that he didn’t have the authority to instruct them to do this.
“I could name and shame,” he said. I haven’t quite done that yet.”
According to figures reported by The Irish Times earlier this week, Cork County Council, which received €40 million as a State grant for 2013, put up just €8 million of its own resources, or 17 per cent of total funding for road works. The percentage contributed by the council towards its own local and regional road works have declined from 47 per cent in 1994, even through the years of the economic boom.
In contrast, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, which received just €4 million from the State in motor tax receipts, put up €11 million of its own resources, or 58 per cent of total funding for 2013. Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown contributed 65 per cent in 1994.
Among councils seemingly reluctant to contribute more of the road tax fund or other “own resources” to the upkeep of their roads are: Donegal, whose contribution was just 16 per cent; Laois (11 per cent); Longford (15 per cent); Offaly (15 per cent); Roscommon (12 per cent) and Sligo (9 per cent).
Motorways and national primary roads were “generally in a good condition” and where not, there is probably work scheduled to be done, Mr Varadkar said.