I thank the Deputy for the question. The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is a statutory function of each local authority under the Roads Act 1993, as amended, with works funded by local authorities’ own resources supplemented by State road grants. The current arrangements in place regarding retention of local property tax receipts mean that the four Dublin councils are largely self-funding for works on regional and local roads since 2015. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport provides supplementary grant assistance to road authorities and in recent years has supported local authorities in developing a road pavement management system, MapRoad, with a view to promoting effective asset management. My Department also continues to emphasise to local authorities the importance of prioritising investment in the road network when allocating their own resources.
Analysis undertaken by my Department for the strategic framework for investment in land transport, published in 2015, estimated on a conservative basis that expenditure of €580 million per annum was needed to keep the regional and local road network in a steady-state condition. Updated analysis puts this figure at €630 million, the figure to which Deputy MacSharry referred. There were major cutbacks in funding for the road network in general during the recession. Project Ireland 2040 provides for a gradual increase in funding for regional and local roads and there has been a significant increase in Exchequer funding, particularly in the last two years. The €483 million allocated this year represents an increase of nearly 50% compared to 2017. However, the amount available is not sufficient to achieve steady-state levels of investment. For this reason funding continues to be directed primarily at the maintenance and renewal of the regional and local road network.
Within the budget available to my Department, the main regional and local road grant programmes are focused on specific policy objectives, such as surface sealing to protect the road surface from water damage, road strengthening based on pavement condition rating to lengthen the life of roads and a discretionary grant scheme which allows for a specified range of activities including winter maintenance. These three grant programmes account for most of the grant funding and are allocated taking into account the length of the road network and traffic factors in a particular local authority area.