Communities are being asked to contribute up to 50% of the cost of repairing their own roads, under a pilot scheme.
Announced by Alan Kelly, junior transport minister, the new scheme will see the Government supply a total of €10.6m over two years which will be matched by almost €4m in private funding.
Galway, Mayo, Wexford, and Wicklow are just some of the counties asking for locals to contribute 50% of the cost of repairing their own roads.
Under the new scheme, a total of €842,506 has been estimated for a total of 28 road projects in Cork.
A local community contribution of €168,508 (20%) is being sought for these repairs.
In Kerry, the local community has been asked to stump up for 20% of the €342,898 needed for maintenance works on nine road projects.
The Community Involvement in Road Works Scheme is purely voluntary but will allow businesses, chambers of commerce, and individuals to either contribute labour, machinery or finance to road maintenance projects.
Mr Kelly dismissed suggestions that this amounted to local communities having to pay to repair their own roads for free. He said the pilot project was merely a national extension of schemes that were already in place in a number of local authorities.
“Working through local authorities, we are asking locals to put in a contribution of between 20% and 50% to 377 applications that we have passed in the department and this is going to work on over 240km of road.
“We’ve got to be realistic. We don’t have the same amount of funding as in previous years, it’s as simple as that,” he said.
Mr Kelly said by allowing locals to assist in repairing their own roads, they could be repaired sooner than would normally be the case.
“In this way, if there are particular problems affecting a given stretch of road and if the local community are willing to assist the local authority [in money or kind] with the necessary works, then such roads can be improved sooner than would otherwise be the case,” he said.
The upkeep and maintenance of local roads is funded primarily through motor tax receipts. At least one third of these are ring- fenced for this purpose with local authorities adding to this from the remaining two thirds of its road tax allocation or from other sources.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved