SPECIAL REPORT: The worsening state of our roads

He’s seen his fair share of bad roads during a lengthy mining career which took him around the world.

But Trevor Davis said he’s never seen a road this bad.

“Three years ago, the neighbours would say ‘that road of yours is brutal’. I don’t know what they’d say about it now,” he said.

Behold the disintegrating L6001 — or what’s left of it.

Potholed and pockmarked in places, scarred and gouged in others, this crumbling half-mile stretch of hilly local road just outside Mr Davis’s home, off the R600 in rural Lisheenaleen near scenic Kilbrittain in West Cork, is one rainstorm away from being washed off the map.

“I’ve worked on the mines in Canada and I saw frost lift — where the severe cold would lift the surface of the road every year,” says Mr Davis, 69.

“But it never seemed to be a problem because the potholes were repaired quickly and the road surface just never got to the really serious stage that this road is at.”

Mr Davis and his partner Christine renovated and moved into their house at the bottom of the L6001 in 1997. The surface was fine for a byroad, he said, and he recalls seeing teams of county council workers armed with shovels clearing roadside ditches in the area.

“That’s all gone now. Nobody bothers with the maintenance anymore. I’ve seen neighbours out on the roadsides clearing dykes,” he says.

The L6001 began to wear away about four years ago when the first big freeze hit, causing minor holes and cracks to appear. They were ignored and a series of cold winters followed, making the holes and cracks larger.

Runoff from severe rain storms gouged large channels in the road surface, and its edges began to collapse.

Today, the road is just one car-axle wide in places. In another section, a 6in deep trench runs about 10m long.

Mr Davis doesn’t drive up the hill anymore — it’s just not safe.

Postman Declan Fitzgerald says he only uses the road because he has to.

“I’ve been a postmen for 13 years — working in this area for seven years. And it’s one of the worst I’ve seen in my career. I certainly wouldn’t travel it in my own car,” he says.

“In the summer, the council would clear the roadside drains and the rain water would flow away.

“But that doesn’t happen anymore and now the water is tearing away at it, cutting away more and more. Soon the road is going to be impassable.”

This will be a problem not just for Mr Davis and his neighbours but also for tourists. Most GPS devices send tourists along this road because it’s the most direct route between the Cork ferry port and West Cork.

Mr Fitzgerald filmed his postal run along the road and has uploaded the footage to the Cork Potholes Facebook page.

Page administrator Patrick O’Leary said: “The aim of the page is to make people aware of the potholes so that they can avoid them, but also with the hope that maybe someone from Cork city and county councils will come across the page, and take note of the potholes that are around and get them filled.”

Mr Davis hopes somebody in authority will act.

As the L6001’s roadside drains are often blocked by rubble and vegetation, runoff rain is channelled into Mr Davis’s property, washing away part of his concrete driveway. He has put sandbags near his property amid fears the water could threaten his house.

Despite repeated pleas to the county council, and several letters to local councillors and TDs, to repair the road, nothing has happened.

Budgetary constraints have been blamed. And even if any work is sanctioned, Mr Davis has been told it will be of a relatively minor nature.

He can’t afford to wait. He is planning to install a special grid and pipe near his gate to protect his property.

“Wouldn’t it be better to spend a few hundred euro every now and then and keep the repairs going, than to wait until it could cost tens of thousands of euro?”

Mr Davis and his partner have paid the household tax but question what they’re getting in return for it.

“Why can’t the council hire contractors to get on top of the problem. There are plenty of people out there who are willing to work.”

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