Written Answers. - Roads Projects.

John Bruton


345 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if he will make a statement on the view expressed by the National Competitiveness Council that there is insufficient funding for 23 additional roads projects that have received planning approval and were due to commence in 2002; and the position regarding them. [10762/03]

The 2003 Estimates provision of €1.209 billion will bring total Exchequer investment in the national roads programme over the period 2000-03 to approximately €3.8 billion. This is more than €900 million in excess of that provided for in the national development plan. This will enable good progress to be maintained in the upgrading of the network.

The allocation of the funding available to projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority. Good progress has been made to date with the implementation of the national roads pro gramme. As many as 28 projects have been completed and are open to traffic. Work is currently continuing on a further 19 projects this year. Two of these have opened already and 11 are due to open later this year.
While a number of projects were through the statutory approval process by the end of 2002, the increase in funding levels in 2003 will allow work to begin on at least seven more projects this year. This investment will also fund land acquisition and archaeological work on a number of major schemes thereby clearing the way for tendering later in the year.
Further work will also be undertaken on projects in planning and design to enable these projects to get to construction as quickly as possible. The 2003 Estimates provision will maintain the pace and momentum of the programme built up over the past three years.