The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority. 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 Council.
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 crisis 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 20240 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.
I understand that Cork County Council, which had responsibility for Lehenaghmore, had prepared a draft road improvement scheme for the area with a view to improving public transport and pedestrian access. Responsibility for Lehenaghmore has now been transferred to Cork City Council. I understand that there has been interaction between both Councils and the National Transport Authority regarding the scheme which fed into a review of aspects of the design. Once the design of the proposed scheme is finalised it will be for the Council to decide how best to proceed.
If funding is sought under the Regional and Local Road Programme, a Preliminary Appraisal in relation to the proposed upgrade will have to be submitted as required under the capital project appraisal process. Once an appraisal is received it has to be assessed taking into account other competing projects and the overall roads budget. Such an appraisal has not been submitted to date by Cork County Council or Cork City Council in relation to the upgrade of the L2455 Lehenaghbeg/Lehenaghmore road. It is also open to the Council to consider other sources of funding, including own resources.