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Acting Director of service for physical development, Tom Tiernan wants to reduce public liability claims through investment in footpath improvement works around Ennis.

Road funding levels not sustainable

CLARE County Council’s senior engineer, Tom Tiernan has admited that funding levels have “crashed downwards” in recent years, leading to local authorities having to “abandon tertiary roads”.

Tom Tiernan commented that the entire road network needs to be in a good condition to facilitate the country’s economic recovery, saying current funding levels are not “sustainable”.

He was speaking following the release last week of the National Oversight and Audit Commission Report, which found that Clare had the highest percentage of “severe structural defects” on tertiary roads in the country.
However, Mr Tiernan stated that the figure presented in the report for Clare “isn’t necessarily representative” of the situation in the county.

As outlined in The Clare Champion last week, the report looked at the standard of primary, secondary and tertiary roads. League tables were compiled, with criteria such as surface defects, structural distress and pavement defects all considered.

According to the report, 22% of tertiary roads in Clare were found to have significant structural defects, while 15% were found to have “structural defects present”.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Mr Tiernan stated, “With regard to the roads aspects of this report, the first point to be made is that the output in relation to local roads is based on the fact that at the time of assessment just 23% of the roads in the county had been surveyed in a Pavement Condition Index context – therefore the 22% deemed to be severely structurally defective isn’t necessarily representative of the situation in the county as a whole.”

He continued, “Having said that, even taking account that the report doesn’t reflect the condition of all local roads, it does demonstrate that there is a problem to be dealt with in terms of levels of funding which is being allocated to roads at the present time and over the past seven years or so, since the demise of the Celtic Tiger era.

“Overall, funding levels for roads crashed downwards by approximately 30% from 2008 to 2009 and today funding levels are approximately 50% of what pertained in 2008. This isn’t sustainable and, as a result, local authorities are being forced to prioritise in favour of the more heavily trafficked routes to an extent that there is no funding available to look after most local tertiary and many local secondary routes. In effect, local authorities have been forced to abandon many tertiary routes.”

He concluded, “Local authorities have been calling for a reversal in road funding trends now that the economy is recovering. Saving a euro in the road maintenance/management area will ultimately result in a cost to the State of up to €10 because of the nature of the needs which evolve due to lack of routine surface restoration and other works. The present approach amounts to false economy and the entire road network needs to be in good condition.”

Jessica Quinn

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