“Proper road maintenance is essential” was also the demand of the Freight Transport Association Ireland (FTAI). It stated that to continue cuts will result in a progressive deterioration in the condition of the road network, higher maintenance costs for commercial and private road users, and ultimately lead to higher costs to remedy road damage.
The cuts were revealed yesterday within the Irish Government’s 2014 Budget, which was billed as the final austerity budget in Ireland, when the reduction in the provision for road maintenance was announced.
Neil Mc Donnell – FTA Ireland General Manager said: “FTA Ireland believes that cutting funds for road maintenance is a costly mistake. It will inevitably have an effect on all road users, and as most of Ireland’s freight is delivered by road will undoubtedly impact the freight industry and the way it operates. Long term remediation costs will exceed the savings from these short term measures.”
The spending on road maintenance and renewal across Ireland has seen a sharp decline over the past five years from its peak in 2008.
Exchequer spending on the maintenance and improvement of regional and local roads across the country was €604 million in 2008 which, coupled with expenditure from local authorities’ own resources, was then sufficient to maintain the roads to a good condition.
However, in 2013 the Exchequer provision for road maintenance had dropped radically to just €346 million.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) recently reported to the Oireachtas Transport Committee that its capital maintenance budget for national roads had been cut by 83% since the peak and by 50%in the past year alone.
Mr Mc Donnell added: “Proper maintenance delivered will not only gainfully employ people now, but most importantly ensure that we will have a road network which will remain usable, and won’t commit taxpayers to high levels of capital maintenance at a later date.”