Decades Of Funding Shortfalls Cause Road Network Decline

A recent report on the structural maintenance of Northern Ireland's road network has found that decades of funding shortfalls are having a deteriorating effect on its condition.

Published by the Northern Ireland Audit Office, the Comptroller and Auditor General report also highlights that the Department of Infrastructure relies heavily on late in year funding for structural maintenance, reducing its ability to plan this work properly and carry it out in periods of better weather.

Annual funding has on average been £50 million less than what's needed to maintain roads in a steady and sustainable state.
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Commenting on the findings of his report, Mr Kieran Donnelly said: "It is clear from this report that short term, inadequate funding of road maintenance expenditure is causing the serious deterioration of a key public asset. The securing of a long term funding option needs to be a priority. One of the surprising findings within the report is the absence of a roads maintenance strategy to demonstrate long-term development and maintenance requirements of the network. I am also recommending some reconsideration of the way maintenance funding is allocated. While major roads such as motorways are in better condition than previously thought, minor roads, including much of the rural network, continue to deteriorate."

Following the audit, an Ulster Unionist MLA has called on the region's political parties to come together and agree a long-term National Infrastructure programme.

John Stewart, an MLA for east Antrim said the report should act as a "wake-up call".

"It spells out the impact of both the lack of funding which is available for structural maintenance of the road network, and the lack of certainty of funding. 

"There needs to be a general acceptance that spending on infrastructure investment and maintenance help the wider economy and there has to be the political will to make good on previous pledges.

"The Ulster Unionist Party would like to see all parties coming together to agree a National Infrastructure programme out to say, 2050, so that we can agree to properly prioritise our transport infrastructure and deliver funding certainty.

"This would deliver sensible solutions that would benefit all the people of Northern Ireland rather than the DUP's £50 Bn bridge to Scotland."


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