€200M road budget cut dooms drivers to 12 months of disintegrating roads – O’Dowd

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FG Dáil motion calls for funding to restore worst damaged roads

A  €200  million cut imposed on the roads budget by Transport Minister Noel
Dempsey  means there’s no money to repair scores of county roads damaged by
the recent deep freeze, Fine Gael Transport Spokesman Fergus O’ Dowd TD has
warned.

Speaking  during the Fine Gael Private Members’ Motion on the impact of the
freezing  weather on roads and water, Deputy O’Dowd said Minister Dempsey’s
deep  cut  to  the roads budget will leave roads closed, damage our economy
and risk lives.

“Our  local and regional road network serves an important economic role and
has  valuable  social  and community functions. Ninety four per cent of all
our  roads are regional or local, carrying about 60% of all traffic and 43%
of all goods traffic.

“Last  February,  less  than  a  year  ago, Transport Minister Noel Dempsey
announced  a  €607.5 million investment programme in the regional and local
roads  programme  with  great  fanfare. He said the funding was guaranteed,
even though Exchequer funding was under enormous pressure.

“This guarantee lasted less than two months until the Emergency Budget, and
there  were further reductions in Budget 2010. Overall the roads budget was
slashed by €196 million, a 32% cut.

“Road  safety  is  central  to  road improvement programmes and maintenance
work, and is supposed to be a key plank of the Government’s road investment
programme.  Yet,  the  deep freeze has left scores of roads pockmarked with
potholes the size of craters, or disintegrating completely.

“Fine  Gael  is  calling  on  the Minister to immediately release emergency
funding  through  the  NRA to restore these roads. The Government’s ongoing
refusal  to  acknowledge  its  role,  and its willingness to allow roads to
deteriorate  further,  will  cost taxpayers more in the long run and  place
drivers’ at even greater risk.”