Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Road Improvement Schemes
676. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to recommence the proposed Narrow Water Bridge project to link County Louth and County Down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17597/14]
The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for each local authority.
The Irish Government supported the original decision by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) to approve the allocation of EU funding to the Narrow Water bridge project and committed an upfront funding contribution of €3.9 million in January last year. The funding which was to be provided by my Department for the Narrow Water Bridge Project represented a significant commitment given the current financial circumstances. This funding contribution was due to be matched with a contribution from the Northern Ireland authorities in line with the agreed funding ratios for the Programme.
The Government was disappointed that the tender process resulted in a doubling of the initial costs budgeted for by the project partners for the construction of the bridge. While the Government indicated that it would be willing to help to address the shortfall in funding for the Narrow Water Bridge, this depended entirely on matching contributions from the other parties, including the Northern Ireland Executive. These commitments were not forthcoming within the timescale required for the Interreg IV programme.
As the Deputy will be aware, as part of the recovery programme that this Government has had to pursue to put the country back on its feet there is, unfortunately a further reduction in regional and local roads spending in 2014 of over €60 million. While it was unfortunate that it was not possible for the project to go ahead under the Interreg IV programme, this is a project that the Government would like to see delivered in the future and remains committed to. The Irish Government will continue to explore the funding opportunities that may present themselves in relation to this project.