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Resurfacing Skibbereen streets would use up entire roads budget

March 31st, 2024 10:00 PM

By Jackie Keogh

There was a lot of criticism of the state of the region’s roads.

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RESURFACING Skibbereen’s main thoroughfare would use up the complete roads budget for the year, members of the West Cork Municipal District (WCMD) have been told.

That was the response of engineer John Ahern after Cllr Karen Coakley (Ind) tabled a motion calling on Cork County Council to prioritise road resurfacing in Skibbereen.

Mr Ahern acknowledged the streets in Skibbereen have ‘deteriorated significantly over the last five months following the very wet winter’.

But he told the councillors what the Council has been allocated, under the roads restoration improvement programme, covers just 2% of the road network in the WCMD area.

He said the lack of funding overall means that it would be 50 years before any given road in the county could be resurfaced.

‘It’s a situation where we will never catch up,’ said Mr Ahern, who confirmed that the Council’s maintenance grants have also taken a hammering in the last 10 years or more.

He explained that the funding they get only allows for the resurfacing of 40km throughout the entire WCMD area.

Cllr Coakley complained that the road surface throughout Skibbereen town is ‘nothing short of appalling.’ She said some of the roads, such as North Street, Market Street, Townshend Street, Ilen Street and the Marsh Road are in an atrocious state.

They are so bad, they are a health and safety issue for anyone cycling, driving or walking nearby, she said, with motorists swerving to avoid.‘Businesses are trying to encourage shoppers to come to town but the state of the streets is putting people off,’ she said.

‘I pity the parents and students attending St Patrick’s Boys School, West Cork Campus and the Skibbereen Sports Centre,’ she added.

In response, Mr Ahern said that if the local authority were to resurface the streets – starting at the church, down Market Street, up Townshend Street and out Bridge Street – it would use all of this year’s budget.

Under the current restoration improvement programme, Mr Ahern said the Council plan is to do a full ‘kerb to kerb’ resurfacing of the top end of Main Street and the square, as well as a section of North Street. He said this work will be done by a contractor but will be managed by Council and local road design staff.

The engineer said the resurfacing of the most damaged sections of Townshend Street will also be undertaken by the Council staff in the coming weeks.

This month the Council is working to resurface the worst section of Bridge Street.

Mr Ahern gave an indication that the second footpath at Bridge Street is likely to be repaired later this year. When that is done, he said the Council plans to fully resurface Bridge Street in 2025.

Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) complained that the funding for road projects, and maintenance works, is totally inadequate for a network of roads that measures 12,000km.

A few years ago, he said he tabled a motion requesting the investment of €50m in West Cork roads – just so the network could be brought back to a serviceable state.

He said budget cuts, first implemented in 2009, decimated the roads programme, and it has never recovered.

Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said a lot of road resurfacing works have been done in Bantry in recent years and that more would be done when the New Street culverts are replaced.

Cllr Deirdre Kelly (FF) said more money will have to come from central government to do the necessary improvements and repairs to West Cork’s road network.

Cllr Caroline Cronin (FG) said the junction near the SuperValu in Castletownbere is in such a desperate state that it has been the cause of numerous accidents.

Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) suggested that a meeting with the Junior Minister for Transport, Jack Chambers, was urgently needed.

Following the WCMD meeting, Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan indicated he had arranged such a meeting to discuss disparities in roads funding for Cork, but no date as yet has been confirmed.

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