Offaly gets half the funding of Laois to fix storm-damaged roads
Offaly has received almost half the funding allocation of Laois to fix roads damaged by recent storms and heatwave.
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross TD today announced €18 million in additional allocations to local authorities under a new ‘Special Maintenance Grant’ to assist in the repair of regional and local roads damaged by severe weather events, including snow and the recent summer heatwave.
Under the scheme, Offaly will receive €500,000 to fix the damaged roads, which have been the source of significant anger in recent months. Roads right across the county have undergone 'sinking' with a vast majority of the network built on bog foundations.
Just last week, Cllr Noel Cribbin called for significant emergency funding to fix roads like the Edenderry to Rathangan road which has seen this sinking phenomenon.
Laois County Council is set to receive €956,000 through the funding scheme; Kildare will get €600,000; Longford €500,000; Westmeath €334,000. The biggest single allocation was made to Cork County Council, which will receive €1.1 million.
Minister Ross said: “In deciding on the allocations I was very conscious of the fact that in certain areas of the country the fabric of the regional and local road network has suffered significant damage as a result of severe weather events and that in some cases local authorities have been faced with damage caused by repeated severe weather incidents."
"I am pleased to be able to provide additional funding support of €15m to assist local authorities in progressing repairs to affected regional and local roads before year-end," the Minister added.
Extreme weather events over the last year, such as Storm Eleanor, Storm Emma, flooding incidents and the summer drought have had a major impact on the regional and local road network. These events combined with the extended period of reduced funding for road maintenance following the economic downturn have left the road network much more vulnerable to damage.
In addition, a €3m allocation is being provided to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to assist with winter operations and maintenance works on national roads. TII assists local authorities with maintenance funding for national roads.
Minister Ross concluded: “This additional funding boosts the regional and local road budget in 2018 from €417m to €432m which represents an increase of 33% on the 2017 investment. I would also like to emphasise once again that I consider that local authorities are best placed to assess priorities within their areas and to decide their work programmes."
"I further wish to explain that these grants are to supplement local authorities own resources expenditure on regional and local roads and do not represent the total investment in regional and local roads for this year.”
Responding to the announcement, Offaly County Councillor said, "This will be very welcome funding as the council endeavours to restore some of the damaged roads in the county."
"A lot of the damage and cracks were caused as a result of the drought during the very hot weather over the summer months. This drought combined with the fact that a number of the roads in Offaly are primarily built over a peat foundation has resulted in some very poor road conditions and any repairs that this funding can facilitate has to be welcome news."