ALMOST half of the money allocated to local authorities to fix roads damaged in last winter’s big freeze has not yet been spent.
With some experts predicting another severe cold snap during the current months, Fine Gael road safety spokesman Tom Hayes warned yesterday that time was running out for councils to make repairs before winter weather returns.
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey told Mr Hayes, in a written Dáil reply, he expects all of the €414 million in emergency road funding to be drawn down by the end of the year. However, figures from the department show many councils have not yet availed of any of the funding they were allocated.
“Some €414m of emergency funding was given to councils this year to repair badly damaged roads. Yet €184m of that funding has still not been spent – that’s 44% of the total,” Mr Hayes said yesterday.
“Councils can only avail of this money until the end of the year. But the biggest losers of all will be motorists, who witnessed the dramatic deterioration of roads all over Ireland last winter. This has serious safety consequences, as well as causing untold damage to vehicles.”
The South Tipperary TD referred to the four road deaths over the weekend and called on local authorities to make maximum use of the available funding to make the roads safer.
Mr Hayes cited his own constituency as an example, where the county council has only drawn down 80% of the €10m it was allocated, while none of the four urban councils have yet availed of their allocations that total almost €1m.
Mr Dempsey said he told local authorities to address the most urgently-required repairs on a priority basis. “I understand that all of the funding allocated to local authorities for regional and local roads in 2010 will be drawn down by year-end.”
However, figures provided by the department showed that over €184m of the total allocation of almost €415m had yet to be drawn-down by the end of September.
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