I am grateful for the opportunity to raise this issue on the need to address the serious condition of road surfaces in cities, particularly in my native Cork city. Recently, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, announced the provision of emergency funding for local and regional roads, although not in city areas. He wrote to 29 local authorities stating that €42 million from the restoration improvement grant could be diverted for emergency repair works on local and regional roads. I support that decision. All the roads in the country are in a bad state. A litany of weather incidents has taken its toll and road surfaces need to be repaired.
I accept there is little money available and the Minister has always been clear in stating that. We are aware of the situation. I am aware from my engagement with local councillors and the city manager in Cork city that funding is not available to address the problems, so the initiative whereby funding can be reallocated from other areas is important and welcome. My point is that there should be something similar for city areas. While I accept that cities do not have roads of the same length, those roads carry high intensity traffic which is taking a toll. It is dangerous for both motorists and cyclists and must be addressed. The situation cannot continue. This issue is constantly being raised with me by members of the public and by Cork city councillors who are concerned about it. Would it be possible to divert a portion of the funding that is currently allocated for worthwhile cycle ways, footpaths, mobility improvement and green routes? There has been much investment in these facilities in our cities. This infrastructure is important in urban areas to encourage pedestrians and cyclists and to improve mobility, while taking the emphasis off car transport.
However, in many cases we have what could be described as white elephants in wonderful developments yet the roads on which people and cyclists are travelling are in very bad repair. There are large potholes. The Minister is very well aware of this issue as the photographs go to his Department. I am anxious to make a strong case for the Cork city area. I am not asking the Minister to provide new funding but that the local authority be allowed to redirect funding it is spending on new projects to improving the serious condition of road surfaces. If we do not invest now, we will create further problems for the future. Unless we address it, what is a substantial pothole filling problem today could require major restoration work in the years to come.