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. 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 (schemes costing less than €5m) and Strategic Improvement Grants (schemes costing more than €5m) for the strengthening, widening or realignment of regional and local roads. However, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the crisis meant this grant scheme had to be curtailed from 2013 because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.
The current Capital Plan does provide for the gradual build-up in funding for the road network but it will take some time yet to reach the level required even for the basic maintenance and renewal of the network. For this reason, there continues to be limited scope for funding new or additional projects under the Specific and Strategic Grant Programmes.
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 the Department's Capital Appraisal Framework (CAF). Given the limited funding available for RLR improvement works it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind. Donegal County Council submitted a Preliminary Appraisal in relation to improvement works on the R232 in January this year.
Grant funding of €500,000 has been allocated for the R232 in 2019 and all available 2019 grant funding has now been allocated. Future allocations will be considered as part of the decision making process for next year's grant allocations.