Thousands of kilometres of roads suffering from major defects

Thousands of kilometres of regional and local roads across the country are suffering from major defects, according to a new report by a local government watchdog.

Thousands of kilometres of roads suffering from major defects

Thousands of kilometres of regional and local roads across the country are suffering from major defects, according to a new report by a local government watchdog.

The latest annual report by the National Oversight and Audit Commission on the performance of local authorities found 7% of the country’s regional road network showed signs of “some to severe structural distress” under an index used to rate the condition of road surfaces – up from 4% in 2017.

The figure for local primary roads was also 7% – unchanged from the previous year, according to NOAC.

At the same time the local government watchdog also recorded an increase in the proportion of regional roads – which are often the main arteries connecting large parts of the country –in near perfect condition.

The report showed 39% of the regional road network had few or no defects last year – up from 28% in 2017.

“Poor quality roads can be a cause of concern to communities and impact economic development,” said NOAC.

However, it said the figures over the past five years showed the general condition of both regional and local roads, which carry approximately 54% of all traffic, had improved over the period.

The survey did not examine the condition of national roads including motorways as their maintenance is a shared responsibility between councils and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

NOAC said it focused its examination on the 25 local authorities outside the main urban areas of Dublin, Cork and Galway.

At least 10% of regional roads in five counties were categorised in the worst condition – Offaly, Wexford, Cork County, Limerick City and County and Wicklow – with Offaly having the highest rate at 16%.

At the other end of the scale, only 2% of regional roads in both Longford and Leitrim were rated as being in a bad state of repair.

Roscommon County Council had the greatest share of its road network categorised as having no or few defects – 58% of all regional roads in the county.

Other councils with a high proportion of their regional roads in near perfect condition were Leitrim, Meath and Sligo.

In contrast, Wicklow County Council had the least amount of its regional road network in good condition with just 24% obtaining the best rating.

NOAC acknowledged that there could be a wide variation in the quality of the road network within individual local authority areas.

Road conditions are estimated to be a contributory factor in up to 4% of all fatal collisions, according to research carried out by the Road Safety Authority.

On local primary roads, Wexford had the highest percentage (34%) of its network classified as structurally distressed which NOAC said was “a cause for concern and should be addressed urgently”.

Other areas with high levels of local roads in poor condition were Cork County and Waterford City and County Council.

Kildare had the highest percentage (38%) of its local roads with few or no defects with Monaghan, Sligo and Kerry also having high proportions of their local road networks in good condition.

Less than 50% of local primary roads had been surveyed in three areas – Carlow, Laois and Limerick City and County.

The report showed a total of €282.6m was spent on the maintenance and repair of the regional and local road network last year.

Improvement works were carried out on 814 kilometres of regional roads and 4,182 kilometres of local roads in 2018 from a total network of almost 96,000 kilometres.

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