Suffering Roads Cuts!

grass-motorcycle-250 The DRD (Department for Regional Development) Transport Minister Danny Kennedy recently expressed his concerns regarding cuts to the DRD budget that he says will have a significant impact on maintenance services, which are the responsibility of TransportNI.

The Minister was speaking before a meeting between TransportNI and Belfast City Council where he was announcing the delivery of  £17.6million for road schemes in Belfast City Council area which saw the successful completion of road maintenance and improvement schemes in 2014/2015 in the Belfast City Council area.

The DRD will at present be “suffering” £60 million cuts to the Department in 2015/16, more than half of which will fall to TransportNI, the Minister stated, “As it stands, my budget does not provide for sufficient service provision in areas like repair of potholes, street lights and traffic signals and other measures such as gully emptying and grass cutting at junctions. As a result, my Department has no option other than to cut back on the routine maintenance of the network. There will be no funding available for external contractors to carry out routine road maintenance, however, the Department’s internal workforce will be providing a skeleton service for the first part of the year, at least.”

“Road Inspections will currently continue as normal, however, only the highest priority potholes will be repaired. Gully emptying and grass cutting services will be provided on a reduced scale. There will be limited weed control and maintenance of white lines and only one quarter of the required resource available to repair street lighting outages. Contractors will still be employed to carry out electrical inspection and testing of street lights and the repair of hazardous electrical and structural defects.”

The minister made reference to the difference to capital budget, the developing resurfacing and traffic management schemes, enhancing safety, improving traffic flow and to provide measures for pedestrians and cyclists, we are sure he did mean to include Powered Two Wheelers (PTW’s) motorcycle, scooters and moped riders.

The DRD in the past month has announced:

  • £207,000 road improvements at A26 Dunsilly Roundabout, Antrim
  • Armagh City junction upgrade works near completion
  • £500,000 Johnston Bridges improvement scheme A32 Cornagrade Road Enniskillen
  • £435,000 resurfacing works at Templepatrick
  • £90,000 resurfacing scheme in Kesh
  • £110,000 Road improvement scheme set to get underway in Saintfield area
  • £13.6million for road schemes in Lisburn and Castlereagh

However the problem is that apart from these improvements not being on the roads you use, the DRD is the cutting back on routine maintenance of the road network.

Although as riders we do seem to be well aware of the state of the roads, this is just confirmation that only the highest priority potholes will be repaired, grass cutting at junctions and maintenance of white lines will be provided on a reduced scale.

Will Things Get Better?

Next year, which also sees elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly, the number of Northern Ireland Departments is to be cut from twelve to nine. This will mean that all the DOE Department Of The Environment Road Safery Functions will be amalgamated into a new department, probably with a new minister, along with the to be defunct DRD – Department For Regional Development which included Roads Service/Transport NI, in time for the 2016 Assembly election.

A quick explanation would be that the DOE looked after the safety on the roads of users, the DRD looked after the safety of the roads but also included cycle safety and sustainable travel and parking (which is now transferred in the main to the new “super” councils which saw Northern Ireland Councils reduced from twenty-six to eleven.

The PSNI – Police Service for Northern Ireland has or is aligning its Districts with these new local councils as part of the Review of Public Administration (RPA) – councils and district policing partnerships who also delve into road safety have some “realigning” to do in respect of road safety. Hopefully we will still see the operation of the PSNI’s Bikesafe rider assessment scheme.

The new department will be called, “The Department for Infrastructure” according to a political agreement at Stormont and will “exercise the existing responsibilities of DRD, but will also take on a range of functions from other existing departments – vehicle regulation, road safety and Driver and Vehicle Agency functions from DOE; the Rivers Agency from DARD; inland waterways from DCAL; and from OFMDFM (Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister) the Strategic Investment Unit and several regeneration sites, including the Crumlin Road Gaol.”

Stepping up a bit more politically on this issue what we can expect, in our opinion, is poorer services for Northern Ireland because there is bigger fish to fry in the political storms at Stormont than the safety of all road users using our roads!

Original News Source – DRD – Department for Regional Development – Click Here

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