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Council could defer roadworks due to costs

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DEPARTMENT NEEDS TO SEE SENSE Achill Fianna Fáil councillor, Paul McNamara.


Anton McNulty

A SENIOR official with Mayo County Council has informed councillors that improvements planned for roads this summer may be deferred due to rising costs of materials.
The cost of road making materials has increased by 33 percent since the Mayo County Council Road Programme for 2022 was adopted and councillors were informed that some projects may not be able to go ahead.
Speaking at the May monthly meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District, Padraig Walsh, head of the municipal district said that without supplementary funding they will not be able to do all the roads they planned.
“If we are to work within the budgets we have with the cost increases we have been hit with there will have to be cutbacks. Our preference will be to defer some projects in their entirety to next year and keep others in full. The logic is that is when you have a 300m stretch of road run down to 150m you will get to the stage where it might be as well to defer some projects rather than doing a whole host of projects some of which will be very short and you would question the value of them.
“Our own preference would be to talk to you about deferring some projects into next year but what is absolutely certain is we will not be able to deliver everything as planned with the money we have. It is simply not possible,” he told the councillors.
Mr Walsh said that there is no indication that supplementary funding will be made available to cover the rising costs but the Department of Transport recently asked local authorities for feedback on how the increase in costs are affecting them.
Achill-based councillor Paul McNamara said that regional and local roads already receive less funding than national roads and expressed concern that work will be curtailed this summer. He said that money should be made available to ensure they are done.
“The R319 though Achill is over 30 km and we are doing 800m of it this year which is a very small portion in the scheme of things.

Disappointing
“It is disappointing roads lose out this year and the fear I have is we will not receive an extra allocation next year to do those roads and we will be doing catch-up. This could have a knock on affect for our road programme going forward in that the roads not done this year will not get done for three or four years or the road planned for next year will not be done unless we get funding in the next few weeks before the roads programme finishes. It is an unfortunate situation to be in but hopefully the department sees sense,” he said.
Mr Walsh said that the area engineers will engage in advance with councillors in advance of any adjustments being made.
“There is a lot of ifs but the biggest if is will this be a short term blip in terms of prices and prices will recover. If they do [recover] we will have some chance. If the price increase is short term you have some chance of catching up next year but there are a lot of ifs there,” he concluded.