Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Roads Maintenance Funding
943. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the average cost per square metre incurred by each local authority outside of Dublin for road resurfacing of regional roads in each of the years 2010 to 2015; if his decision to set maximum costs for surface dressing of regional roads in 2011 helped to reduce excessive costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1389/16]
Surface dressing involves the uniform application of a bituminous binder sprayed onto a road surface followed by a layer of single sized chippings. The application of a surface dressing is a maintenance treatment which is aimed at extending the life of a road pavement by sealing the road and preventing the ingress of water into the road pavement. Because of the process involved it is suited to rural roads rather than to urban roads.
In urban areas, alternative, more expensive, processes and more expensive materials need to be used. Apart from being more expensive, these materials have a greater depth than surface dressing material (and thus strengthen the road as well as seal it). The more built up an area is, the less likely it is that the less expensive surface dressing option can be used. Factors such as the cost of traffic control measures, grade of bitumen emulsion used, extent of preparation works and material transportation distances will also affect costs. It is the case, therefore, that there can be valid reasons for significant variations in costs between local authorities. The cost of bitumen emulsion is a major factor which affects the overall cost of surface dressing across all councils each year.
I can confirm that the maximum rates for surface dressing of €5.50 for regional roads and €4.50 for local roads work are being adhered to. In addition, the introduction of those maximum rates has clarified the range of different treatments which local authorities were undertaking under the heading of routine maintenance (which impacted on average costs). Because of this, the Department has been looking at the classification of works and reporting arrangements with a view to ensuring a consistent approach across local authorities, which in turn will allow for more consistent cost comparisons which are not available from historic data. In this context, local authorities will be advised this year they can only claim for surface dressing work under the Road Maintenance grant and that other road treatments should be charged to the Restoration Improvement Grant.