Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

AA wants more danger roads upgraded

Construction works on the N81 in Co Wicklow. Only three of Ireland's worst accident blackspots have been upgraded a year after plans to fix the country's 60 deadliest road bends were trumpeted. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday February 2, 2013. While work has begun on another 28 hazardous corners, a huge question mark now hangs over the remaining 29 projects. See PA story TRANSPORT Blackspots Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Only three of Ireland's worst accident blackspots have been upgraded a year after plans to fix the country's 60 deadliest road bends were announced.

While work has begun on another 28 hazardous corners, a huge question mark now hangs over the remaining 29 projects.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar announced in January last year that he was handing over 100 million euro to overhaul half of the 60 identified blackspots. But he admitted at the time that the other half would only get the go-ahead if the funds were available.

It is understood that the National Roads Authority (NRA), which has responsibility for carrying out the upgrades, has been told there is no money in the budget this year for more works. Another 100 million euro is needed to carry out the next phase of the safety overhaul.

Plans to fix some of the country's most dangerous road bends - in counties Cavan, Donegal, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Roscommon, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath and Wicklow - have now been effectively shelved.

Sean O'Neill, spokesman for the NRA, said: "As of right now, no additional funding for the remaining schemes is in place." It is understood the need to buy land from local landowners would have delayed construction on some of the earmarked upgrades.

Conor Faughnan, of the AA, said there were obvious financial difficulties facing the Transport Minister, but he insisted motorists hit by extra taxes in the last Budget were promised they would see road improvements in return.

He added: "I'm given to understand that these locations have been identified as dangerous. So surely that must give them sort of priority."

However, Mr O'Neill said it was a 24-month programme and good progress was being made, adding: "It isn't instant coffee - you don't just add water and stir. This involves land purchases, engineering, design and works to straighten out roads. We will be halfway complete by the end of 2013 - that's good progress."

Works at the 28 blackspots where construction began during 2012 are expected to be completed this year, according to the NRA. The authority said the projects will cost exactly the 100 million euro set aside for the first half of the upgrade programme. The Department of Transport could not say when that money would be available.

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