Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Ceisteanna (154, 155, 156, 157, 158)

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

154. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Transport if his Department will upgrade the R624 Cobh to Carrigtohill road to a national route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6027/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

155. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Transport if his Department will carry out a viability study at Bellvelly Bridge, Cobh, County Cork in order to assess if a new bridge is needed to facilitate the rising number of vehicles crossing daily; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6028/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

156. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to a number of accidents on Bellvelly Bridge, Cobh, County Cork which prevented emergency vehicles from accessing Cobh on a number of occasions in which the emergency vehicles had to turn around and drive back towards Cork city and use an alternative river ferry to access Cobh Island; his plans to upgrade the R624 Cobh route and Bellvelly Bridge in view of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6029/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

157. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Transport if his Department will upgrade the R624 route to Cobh, County Cork to a national route and also upgrade the Bellvelly Bridge to maintain the only land access route to Cobh Island; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6030/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Pat Buckley

Ceist:

158. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Transport if the R624 Cobh, County Cork road will be upgraded to a national road in order to facilitate the Ballynoe urban expansion area on the island of Cobh and also protect the connectivity to the island from the mainland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6031/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 154 to 158, inclusive, together.

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.

The NDP, as it stands,  does provide for the gradual build up in funding for the road network, but funding is not yet at the level needed for the adequate maintenance and renewal of regional and local roads.  For this reason, the primary focus for capital investment continues to be  the maintenance and renewal of the network with some limited investment in road improvement projects.  Currently the NDP is under review and changes to project criteria could occur.

Any road improvement project put forward for consideration must be appraised for compliance with the Public Spending Code as revised in December 2019.  An important change to the Public Spending Code is the introduction of a requirement for a Strategic Assessment Report (SAR) for all projects with an estimated expenditure of €10 million or more.  The SAR is now a key deliverable at the first decision stage in the project appraisal process.

The purpose of the SAR is to examine the rationale for a proposed project and to ensure the strategic alignment of projects with Government policy, including the National Planning Framework and National Development Plan. The SAR is also an important step in the project lifecycle in that potential alternatives for an intervention are assessed and identified for further appraisal should the project progress to the Preliminary Business Case phase of the appraisal process.

As regards access to Cobh and Great Island, there was some initial engagement between Cork County Council and this Department in 2019, including a meeting with the  Department's Strategic Research and Analysis Division regarding the project appraisal process. Subsequent to that meeting, Cork County Council decided  to appoint consultants to carry out a wider transport study which will look at all options in relation to access and I understand that the Council expects to appoint those consultants shortly.

As regards the classification of the R624, the classification of roads as either a national road or a regional road is a Ministerial responsibility under section 10 of the Roads Act, 1993, as amended.  A public road, other than one classified  as a national road or a regional road, is a local road.

Roads classified as National Primary or National Secondary are funded by the State and construction, improvement and maintenance works are overseen by TII, in conjunction with the relevant local authority, and funded mainly from voted monies.  Roads classified as regional or local roads fall under the responsibility of local authorities. The construction, repair and maintenance of these roads is funded by local authorities’ own resources supplemented by State grants.

Requests to classify a road as a national road or regional road are considered, in consultation with TII as appropriate.  Criteria for consideration are numerous and include items such as function of road including access to towns and Cities, major ports and airports, geographical regions, population centres and tourist regions.  It also includes considerations of continuity of classification throughout the length of road, whether roads are feeder connections or links to the national road network, cross section, alignment and structural integrity as well as amount of heavy commercial vehicles.   Funding source for road improvement is not a consideration of classification of road type.

No decision has been taken to reclassify the R624 as a national road to date. Further consideration may be given to the issue as part of a future general review of road classifications.