€560m needed to upgrade Cork's roads, says County Council

Councillors said the state of rural roads was the main issue on the doorsteps during their local election canvasses.

€560m needed to upgrade Cork's roads, says County Council

Cork County Council is to seek an urgent meeting with the Taoiseach and his Minister for Public Expenditure in the hope of getting extra funding to improve its crumbling network of rural roads.

The council estimates it needs in excess of €560m to bring them up to a proper standard.

Councillors said the state of rural roads was the main issue on the doorsteps during their local election canvasses.

Cllr Joe Carroll said in particular many rural roads in West Cork were in a terrible condition and he got unanimous support from colleagues when he called for a delegation to be sent directly to meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Cllr Declan Hurley pointed out that there had been huge cutbacks in grant aid from central government since the recession struck in 2008.

He said in that year the council got €65m for road maintenance but this had dropped to just €36m in 2018 before increasing to €50m this year.

“We're meant to be resurfacing 10% of roads every year, yet we're only doing 4%,” he said.

Council chief executive Tim Lucey said his roads engineers estimated €560m was needed to bring the county's roads up to a proper standard.

He added that if the cuts hadn't been introduced in 2008 the county council would have been able to spend an additional €350m on maintaining its roads network, which is the largest in the country at nearly 11,000kms.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan said she had been inundated with calls from people who had burst tyres on potholed rural roads in her municipal district, which covers the Bandon and Kinsale areas.

“Our rural roads have been on the back foot since the recession. We need a significant investment in them,” she said.

Cllr Danny Collins maintained there was no point trying to contact Minister for Transport Shane Ross on the matter as he saw at first hand the state of the roads in West Cork a couple of years ago and they hadn't heard from him since.

Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley said there had been increasing claims by motorists against the county council in recent years because more vehicles were getting damaged by potholes. She maintained that the figure for this year will be the highest yet.

Cllr Alan Coleman said the recession was over and it was high time the government increased funding to pre-2008 levels.

“We also need to meet with the Minister for Public Expenditure (Paschal Donohoe) to discuss the issue. He's the one holding the purse strings,” he said.

Cllr John O'Sullivan said people living in Ahiohill, near Clonakilty, had petitioned Fáilte Ireland to have it included on the Wild Atlantic Way, but had been turned down because the roads were so bad.

Mr Lucey said there was “merit” in seeking a meeting with senior government politicians.

He said that the county still had the biggest roads network of any county in Ireland and had just handed over a “couple of hundred kilometres of road” to the city council due to the recent city boundary extension.

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