A critical transport link in south west Donegal has been included in an investment programme for improved maintenance and safety works.
Independent County Councillor, Niamh Kennedy, said today she was delighted to see the first tranche of funding approved for essential improvement works on Fintra Bridge, on the R263, Killybegs-Glencolmcille Road.
“This project has been a priority with me since my election and I very much welcome the commitment by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, Shane Ross TD, towards getting this work started.
“Fintra Bridge is a critical infrastructural link with the western part of this electoral area but, in its present stage, it could be put out of commission by a very small incident, preventing access to a wide area by emergency vehicles and other traffic”, she said.
Cllr Kennedy pointed out also that Fintra Bridge is on the much-publicised Wild Atlantic Way and taking it out of commission could have huge implications for many tourism activities in South West Donegal.
A total investment programme of €33 million for 2018 for regional and local roads in Co. Donegal has been announced by Minister Ross.
He said: “I am very happy to be able to announce a significant and much needed increase in grant allocations for regional and local roads this year right across the country. Overall 2018 will see a funding increase nationally of about 29% to €417 million including €33 million in Co. Donegal.
“While the funding in 2018 will largely continue to support the maintenance of our current regional road network, expenditure on road improvements projects will also increase. A significant number of these projects have a safety focus.”
Emphasising that his main priority remains the maintenance and safety of the network, the Minister added that investment in maintenance and renewal nationally will see an increase of about 18% in 2018, saying, “roads that are well-maintained lead to less costs for vehicle repair, a reduction in journey times and, crucially, they are safer for us all to travel on.”
“I am especially pleased that the 2018 grant allocations include important initiatives in the area of Community Involvement Schemes and Drainage. While local authorities were able to use general grants for such schemes in recent years, this year ring-fenced funding is being provided.
“These are two areas where I have very much wanted to take action and I am very glad to be able to do so this year. There needs to be an increased focus on measures to improve the resilience of the road network in the face of climate change”, Minister Ross added.
The Government gave a specific commitment after the devastating flooding in Donegal last year to assist Donegal County Council with road repairs and funding is being provided in 2018 to meet that commitment.
Other specific improvement projects that have received an allocation in 2018 include: the rehabilitation of a number of critically deficient bridges on regional roads around the country including Tirconnell and Cockhill Bridges in County Donegal.
“There is also provision nationally for 216 bridge rehabilitation schemes and 227 safety improvement projects to be carried out. The main focus of the safety improvements scheme is to improve safety at locations where collisions have taken place.”
The main features of the national investment programme include:
- €195m for road pavement strengthening works;
- €48m for surface dressing;
- €70.6m for maintenance and strengthening works for which Local Authorities have discretion in the selection of roads;
- €50.3m for Specific and Strategic Regional and Local Roads Projects;
- €9.7m for Bridge rehabilitation works;
- €7.1m for Safety Improvement Works;
- €10m for Drainage works;
- €10m for Community Involvement Schemes
- €16m approx. of miscellaneous grants including, training, speed limit funding, severe weather repairs, salt purchase, road condition survey
Funding of about €1m will be allocated to local authorities to further progress the implementation of 30km/h speed limits in housing estates across Ireland. This programme is now well advanced.
“I would also like to emphasise again that I consider that local authorities are best placed to assess priorities within their areas and considerable autonomy is therefore given to local authorities under grant headings to decide their work programme. I would also explain that these grants supplement local authorities own resources expenditure on regional and local road projects and do not represent the total investment in regional and local roads for this year.”