Wednesday, 25 September 2019
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Road Improvement Schemes
143. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding is available for the upgrading of rural roads along the Wild Atlantic Way for the benefit of developing tourism in the area and increasing connections along the coast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38911/19]
The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads (RLR) 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 the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.
Before the financial crisis, local authorities could apply on a regular basis for grants for Specific or Strategic Improvement Grants for the strengthening, widening or realignment of regional and local roads. However, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the recession meant these grant schemes had to be curtailed after 2013 because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.
Project Ireland 2040 does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network but it will take time. For this reason there is limited scope at present for funding projects under the Specific or Strategic Grant Programme.
Any projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under these Grant Programmes are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis. All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework and it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind.
It is important to reiterate that the role of Exchequer grants for regional and local roads is to supplement local authorities in their spending in this area and it is open to local authorities to fund works on these roads from its own resources. It is also open to the local authorities to undertake rehabilitation works on these roads under their Restoration Improvement Grant programmes.
As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.
Noting the above position, I have referred your questions to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.