NO extra money is being given to local councils to fix roads destroyed during severe flooding, snow and ice.
Local authorities estimate it will cost €180 million to fix hundreds of roads which were left with potholes and other damage because of extreme weather conditions this winter.
The Government is sticking with its original budget allocation of €240m for local roads granted last October, and told councils they can move this money around to prioritise road repair over extensions and other building projects.
“Some other programmes that would have traditionally have got money will not get money,” said Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey.
Because councils are being given “complete discretion” on how they spend their general road funds, money for repair works will have to come from other projects “that would not be as high a priority this year, like special improvement grants where new roads or new sections of roads would be put in”, according to the minister.
Labour’s transport spokesman Tommy Broughan said this was “very disappointing” and that safety issues have to be considered.
“There has clearly been an exceptional level of road damage due to the extreme freezing conditions which have caused devastation to road infrastructure in many parts of the country and which continue this week,” he said.
“This is also clearly a matter of national road safety which Mr Dempsey should have urgently recognised and addressed in the 2010 local roads allocation.”
Mr Broughan said local authorities “have already faced a significant reduction in the local and regional roads grant in the last two budgets”.
But the minister insisted: “We’re saying very clearly to the councils their focus this year has to be on the roads that have been damaged during the weather that we experienced over the winter.”
The priority has to be repairing of the damaged roads and I think that reflects the wishes of the local authorities and the wishes of the local general public,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved