Written Answers. - National Roads Programme.

Brendan Smith

Question:

244 Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for Transport his proposals to increase funding for the national roads programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15272/02]

The national development plan provides for investment of €5.59 billion, 1999 prices, in the national roads programme over the period 2000-2006.

In relation to the funding of the programme, the position is that the Exchequer provision of €2,488 million for the national roads programme over the period 2000-02 has exceeded NDP forecasts by 10%. The Exchequer provision for 2002 at €958 million is more than three times the 1997 level and nearly twice the 1999 level. This level of investment has enabled the NRA and local authorities to make good progress to date in the implementation of the national roads programme.

The cost of the programme, however, has risen at a faster rate than anticipated at the time the NDP was prepared. This is attributable to a variety of factors including construction cost inflation. However, there are indications that construction cost inflation is now easing and this will assist in securing a better level of output for the high levels of investment being made in the programme.
The Government remains committed to the implementation of the NDP national roads programme and the pace and volume of the 2002 programme reflect this. Subject to overall economic and budgetary conditions it is envisaged that the high levels of investment of recent years in the national roads programme will be maintained. My Department, together with the Department of Finance and the NRA, will be considering the future funding of the roads programme taking these factors into account.