THE money used to repair West Cork’s storm-damaged roads might come out of the regular road works and maintenance funds, a meeting of the Western Committee was told recently.
The most recent estimate for the repair of the storm damage in Co Cork has been set at €10.2m – with an estimated €4m of that targeted for West Cork – but only three of the eight Municipal Districts in the county had, at the time the meeting took place, completed their reports on the damage, so it could be more.
County Council chief executive Tim Lucey confirmed that immediate measures are being taken to carry out urgent repair work and area engineers have been given discretion to engage contractors where necessary – firstly for specialist works, and secondly to supplement the Council’s labour resources so that works can be completed in a reasonable period of time.
Further costs will also be incurred in repairing the county’s extensive pothole problem – a figure that is likely to increase, given recent freezing conditions and the impact the freeze and thaw has on the road network.
Mr Lucey made the point that further funding for matters, such as bridge rehabilitation and coastal management works, may also be necessary and said these are being assessed at present.
The chief executive said the area engineers are, at present, carrying out the immediate repair works on ‘an emergency basis’, with the cost being carried by the Council.
However, he said: ‘It will be necessary for this cost to be recovered from any special allocation received from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport or, through the potential re-adjustment of the Council’s roads Restoration Improvement Programme (RIP) during the year if the full cost recovery is not funded nationally.’
Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) said: ‘I sincerely hope the storm damage work will not displace the annual funding and that the projects that have been earmarked for the three-year programme will get the funding they require.’
‘It’s all people are talking about – the state of the roads,’ said Cllr Noel O’Donovan (FG). ‘We’ve highlighted it in the media and called it what it is – a disaster area.
‘We should be looking for more money, not less, and be carrying out important drainage works as well as repairing our road network. We should try and solve the problem once and for all.’
Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said ‘whatever happens, the money for the storm repairs should not come out of the Restoration Improvement Programme. What we need is additional funding, not less.’
Cllr Murphy also made the point that the Council’s Winter Maintenance Programme was cut in half in 2008 and that any further reduction of the funds being used to repair or improve the road network in West Cork would be an outrage.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said he was aware that the chief executive had been approached by local people who wanted to be allowed carry out repairs to roads and that there were a number of constraints that precluded this from happening on a wide scale.
He did, however, say that the Council offer of ‘crushed stone’ for pothole repairs and spreading on rural cul-de-sac roads – where traffic volumes are low – was useless. ‘What’s the point?’ asked Cllr Murphy. ‘It would be washed out in the first shower of rain.’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) also insisted that the money ‘cannot come out of the Restoration Improvement Programme. We need that and additional funding because we also need to tackle drainage, bad planning and climate change.’
Cllr Margaret Murphy O’Mahony suggested that the Council should be working on two separate work schedules – storm damage and planned projects – and she recommended employing local contractors where possible.
Cllr Tom Lombard (FG) said: ‘The rivers need to be cleaned. Until we have done that, we are going nowhere. If we don’t clean them to help prevent flooding, we will be here again in two years’ time.’
Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) said: ‘It’s time for our three TDs and our senator here in Cork South West to fight on behalf of the people of West Cork.’
In the meantime, the Council’s chief executive confirmed that ‘in order to expedite the repairs’ that some overtime – including work on Saturdays – would continue for a number of weeks.