Some of the deep potholes on the L75431 Road.

Inflation forces MD ‘to cut cloth’ on roadwork programme

DELAYED Work on L7543 held off to next year due to rise in costs

Inflation and a general rise in costs across the board has forced elected members in the Bailieborough-Cootehill Municipal District to strike one road off its 2022 list in order to have enough funds to complete the remainder of the Road Works Programme.

The recommended move was greeted with dismay by councillors and prompted a fresh round of disparaging remarks directed at Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, and debate over the need for additional funding for roads in rural counties.

A sum €3 million was awarded to the Bailieborough-Cootehill MD Road Works Programme 2022 by the council proper, with an additional €260,217 allocated through departmental funding. However, the meeting was told that the increase had been swallowed up by “rising inflation” and a spike in “construction costs”, in particular with regards oil-based binding materials.

It states, in this regard, that costs had risen 36% over the past 14 months alone.

Senior Engineer for the area, Alan Lyons, said the price hike having a “significant” impact on the upcoming Road Works Programme, and the council’s “ability to deliver it”.

It was put to the meeting the need to “push” on a scheme into a future Road Works Programme.

“We have to cut our cloth,” said Mr Lyons.

The offcut equated to works on a 1.5km segment of the L7543, the main Shercock to Kingscourt route, connecting Croley and Lisataggaret. The cost of work was estimated at €177,900.

The move would result in a reduction of the number of roads mended under the 2022 Road Works Programme from 11 to 10.

The 10 roads to remain in the programme are: the R178 Shercock-Bailieborough (Nolagh Cross towards Drumlon €501,600); R162 Shercock-Kingscourt (Shercock GAA grounds towards Northlands €521,926); L7534/7535 Derrynurse Road (Shercock-Bailieborough Road to the Lisgar Road €205,700); L7003 Aghadreenagh Road (N3 to Lattalogan €262,473); L3538 Teevurcher Road (Turn off at Kiernan’s Piggery €397,982); L3513 Rooskey to Corraneary Cross (Creamery Road €180,553).

Others include the L3508 Clifferna-Carrickallen (€388,077); L6075 Drumgoney-Knockatudor (1.25km section from Laragh Road €151,970); L3547 Greaghdossan Road (From Nesbitt’s Garage to Cleffin towards Drumanespick Cross €494,067); L7572 Dunaree-Cornakill (Dunaree Lane to Cornakill Corss €155,869).

All costs are based on the year before costs, and do not take into account the price of materials and services at present.

“It’s unfortunate but the more roads we can get done the better it is for the county,” said Mr Lyons.

Under questioning by Aontú’s Sarah O’Reilly Mr Lyons told the meeting that the L7543 was the “least in need of attention” of all routes included in the 2022 Road Works Programme.

Cllr O’Reilly stated that a new three year (2022, 2023 and 2024) roads programme was adopted at their MD in September 2021, and it was incumbent on both the council and the department that this was delivered.

“It’s the same issue in all areas,” said Director of Services for the MD, and also Roads in the county, Paddy Connaughton.

Calling for Minister Ryan to intervene, there was wider belief that any deputation to make the argument to his department in person, should come from the county council rather than a single MD.

“I wouldn’t even call him a minister,” scathed Fine Gael’s Carmel Brady, who stated that Minister Ryan’s front-bench colleague, local TD Heather Humphreys, had bailed local authorities out now on three occasions with regard LIS funding.

“It’s not fit for purpose,” Cllr Brady added of the Department of Transport under Minister Ryan. “He didn’t even have the manners to come see some of the roads we’re talking about when he was down.”

Fianna Fail’s Clifford Kelly agreed, saying: “The amount of money we’re getting is very poor.”

He accused Minister Ryan of “not looking to the future”, while he himself reminded the meeting of the past, saying the bad state of the roads in Cavan in the 1980s had earned the county an unenviable reputation. “It was terrible bad publicity. The minister must know!”

Cllr Kelly went on to say it was fine for Minister Ryan “sitting up in Dublin”.

“It is the council here that is getting the frustration and the abuse,” said the Kingscourt native.

Aiden Fitzpatrick (FF) and chair of the MD, Paddy McDonald (SF) also contributed to the debate before Cllr O’Reilly vented once again “let me at him!” with reference to Minister Ryan.

“It vexes me!” continued the Aontú representative, who claimed Minister Ryan did not “understand” the needs of rural Ireland. She further accused the government of “strategically” placing the leader of the Greens in the position of head of transport knowing he would fail.

“We’re not asking for all of Cavan to be tarmacked,” she said. “All we want is that the cost of these roads including inflation is covered.”

The amended 2022 Road Works Programme was proposed by Cllr McDonald, and seconded by Cllr Brady.