Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
83. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has considered a road funding indexed linked model to the number of kilometres of roads in each county as a fairer way of addressing funding shortages in certain counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53600/21]
84. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider a special road funding model to address access to coastal towns and villages and beaches to help to promote tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53601/21]
85. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his Department will make emergency funding available to East Cork Municipal Council to address the serious road safety issues at Churchtown South in east County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53602/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 to 85, inclusive, together.
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, where applicable.
I announced the 2021 Regional and Local Road (RLR) allocations in February this year and all grant funding available to my Department has now been allocated. The allocation made available to Cork County Council this year is €68.5 million.
The Department appreciates that, within the overall parameters set for the regional and local road grant programmes, local authorities might need to target funding at particular problem areas and there is sufficient flexibility in the structure of the grant programme to allow for this. It is also open to each local authority to allocate its own resources to priority areas.
There were major cutbacks in funding for the road network in general during the post 2008 recession. As a result there is a backlog of road repair works in all local authority jurisdictions across the country. As funding is not yet at the level needed for the adequate protection and renewal of regional and local roads, the primary focus for capital investment continues to be the protection and renewal of the network with some limited investment in road improvement projects.
Within the budget available to the Department, funding is allocated on as fair and equitable a basis as possible to eligible local authorities. In this context, grants in the main grant categories are allocated based on the length of the road network within a local authority's area of responsibility with some account taken of traffic.
The main regional and local road grant programmes are focussed on specific policy objectives i.e. surface sealing to protect the road surface from water damage, road strengthening based on pavement condition rating to lengthen the life of roads and a Discretionary Grant Scheme which allows for a specified range of activities including winter maintenance. These 3 grant programmes account for most of the grant funding. Apart from a requirement that 15% of the road strengthening grant is spent on regional roads, the allocation of funding to different categories of road is a matter for decision by each local authority.