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Council facing a roads crisis due to pothole pandemic


GUIDED BY GOVERNMENT POLICY Tom Gilligan, Mayo County Council.

Anton McNulty

A SENIOR official in Mayo County Council believes that the county is facing a roads crisis unless council staff are allowed back onto the roads to repair the crumbling regional network.
Under the current government Covid-19 guidelines, the outdoor staff of Mayo County Council are not allowed to work on the roads as the filling in of potholes is not considered essential work.
The matter was raised at yesterday’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council where Tom Gilligan, the Director of Services with responsibility for roads, agreed that unless staff returned to work soon, the county was facing a road crisis.
“There is no doubt that we are going to have a roads crisis unless we get out and start repairing some of the road network. It is getting worse by the day,” he said.
“I have been in contact with the department and some politicians as well in relation to getting road projects completed. All TII [Transport Infrastructure Ireland] public jobs are classified as critical infrastructure and are progressing as normal.
“While I am conscious of the health and safety of our staff, I am also conscious of the health and safety of our citizens as well accessing the road network. It is absolutely vital we get out there as soon as possible but we have to be guided by and we must adhere to government policy on that. We will have to wait for further developments,” he explained.
The councillors made comments on the current state of many of the regional roads after they noted the 2021 allocation of funding for road in the county. The overall level of funding increased from €89.8 million in 2020 to €113.1 million in 2021 but the majority of this was for funding for the new N5.

‘Deteriorating fast’
Fianna Fáil councillor Damien Ryan called for the council to write to the Department of Transport to allow for the outdoor staff to return to work.
“Our network is deteriorating fast and it needs attention in March and not in April when we have ambitious programmes to undertake. We need to return while it is safe to do so now,” he said.
Cllr Jarlath Munnelly agreed with Cllr Ryan and acknowledged the increase in funding for both regional roads and the N5.
Crossmolina-based councillor Michael Loftus called for the council to invest in a fourth velocity patcher in order for each municipal district to have one and increase the speed in repairing roads.
“I just want to know what is the position of [a fourth velocity patcher]. The roads in our areas are in dire straits and I have never seen in my time the demand from people to fix potholes. I agree to get the staff back working on the roads but a velocity patcher for each area is the way to go from a efficiently point of view. Buy the new one and get it out and it will pay for itself very quickly,” he said.
Mr Gilligan said the council are assessing a tender for a fourth velocity patcher and hope it will be available to use in the next couple of months.