I announced the 2018 regional and local road allocations in January and all grant funding available to my Department has now been allocated. The grants this year include provision for:
- An 18% increase in Restoration Improvement monies for road strengthening works;
- A 17% increase in Restoration Maintenance monies for surface dressing works;
- The introduction of a new grant for Drainage works (overall €10m);
- Ring fenced monies for Community Involvement Schemes (overall €10m).
It is a matter for each Council to determine its priorities and decide its work programme taking available grant funding and its own resources into account. In this context I continue to emphasise to local authorities the importance of prioritising roads when allocating their own resources.
I have to work within the resources available to me and there is no additional funding available to my Department at present. My colleague Minister Murphy has been liaising with local authorities in relation to clean-up costs from the recent severe weather. I have liaised with Minister Donohoe and will continue to do so to see if additional resources can be allocated to my Department to assist local authorities further.
As regards the analysis of the impact of the recent severe weather, in certain cases after a severe weather event it is possible to clearly identify the damage caused to the road network. This can occur where roads have suffered scour damage at the edges or if sections of road have been washed away or bridges damaged. However, after other events such as low temperatures or snowfall or severe frost the link to the precise event may be less clear cut especially when there are a significant number of roads across the network which are already in poor repair and are in need of maintenance or rehabilitation. Where local authorities do undertake analysis of damage related to specific events, that is noted by the Department but what is important is to examine the overall resources available for repairs and rehabilitation and to prioritise the schemes which will be undertaken in the current and in future years.
For now local authorities should progress their work programmes for the year as quickly as possible. To the end of April €30.3 million in regional and local road grant funding has been drawn down from the total budget of €417 million.