‘Reasonable programme of resurfacing’ for Mid and East Antrim roads

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The Department of Infrastructure says that it will be able to deliver a “reasonable programme of resurfacing schemes” in Mid and East Antrim.

In an update on works, however, the borough council was told that the “maintenance of the road network will be problematic” overall.

Divisional Roads Manager David Porter detailed a number of significant resurfacing schemes which have been completed including Croft Road, Ballyvallagh Road and Ballypollard Road, which were considered to be “in immediate need of repair”.

He explained: “The Department continues to face significant resource and capital budget challenges. Since 2013, the Department has relied on in-year funding to deliver core services including public transport and winter gritting.

“This continues to be the case for 2019-20. Our allocation falls well short of meeting our needs.

“It should enable the maintenance of drinking water and sewerage networks, but the continued provision of public transport services, particularly maintenance of the railway infrastructure, will be challenging.

“Similarly, the maintenance of the road network will be problematic, given its continuing deterioration and increases in raw material costs.

“Maintaining current levels of routine road maintenance, which were dependent on in-year funding in 2018-19, will be unlikely.

“In capital, the 2019-20 allocation to the Department represents a reduction from the previous year.

“Almost 70 per cent of this budget is taken up with committed or priority projects, leaving insufficient budget to meet the Department’s responsibilities as custodian of some £40 billion of public assets; the water and sewerage network and the roads and public transport systems.

“With the remaining funds, we will have to strike a balance between maintaining existing infrastructure in water and sewerage, the road network and public transport and new development.

“Independent advice suggests that an investment of some £400m per year is needed to safeguard these assets, more than double what the Department has available.

“While this will enable the Department to plan to deliver a reasonable programme of resurfacing schemes in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area, funding for other programmes, such as local transport and safety measures and street lighting column replacement, will not be at the same level.

“The allocation for routine maintenance which is also similar to last year, means that we can deliver two grass cuts, a single gully clean across the network and the intervention level for potholes on lightly trafficked roads remains at 50 millimetre.”