As the Deputy is aware, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.
As indicated by my Department in the context of the Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting in September, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the recession meant that grant funding for road improvement 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 2040 does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network but it will take some time to reach the level required for the adequate maintenance and renewal of regional and local roads. For this reason the primary focus for capital investment is the maintenance and renewal of the network and implementation of the 12 regional and local road projects identified for development in the period to 2023, subject to necessary approvals, in Project Ireland 2040.
Some limited provision is being made in the capital budget for the appraisal of a pipeline of upgrade projects. This is intended to cover the appraisal of projects for development, if possible, in the later years of the National Development Plan.
All additional 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. In this context my Department did discuss Meath County Council's road programme, including traffic management at Julianstown, as part of an engineering inspection after the Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting.
The appraisal process includes the preparation of a Preliminary Appraisal for each proposed project. Projects costing over €5 million also need a Detailed Appraisal Report if they progress beyond the Preliminary Appraisal stage. The Department will continue to liaise with Meath County Council in relation to the further analysis required to underpin the assessment and costing of various options for managing traffic in the Julianstown area. As explained at the Joint Oireachtas meeting by the Department the appraisal process can be expected to take time and the scope for moving pipeline projects through to development stage is dependent on the future availability of funding. I understand that Meath County Council is committed to examining traffic management measures which could be implemented in the shorter term.