Council gets update on infrastructure projects

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Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council members have been updated on works in the area by the Department for Infrastructure.

Speaking as he addressed council members on Monday, July 29, Divisional Roads Manager, Mr David Porter, said: “Over the past year, a number of significant resurfacing schemes have been completed including the A26 Oldstone Road, B94 Collin Road, C27 Lylehill Road and B59 Doagh Road.

“In addition, work was completed on the U0405 Harmin Estate, U0411 Richmond Road, U1084 Whappstown Road, U1050 Ballylurgan Road and U1104 Boghill Road as part of the roads recovery fund which addresses roads in immediate need of repair.”

Mr Porter also advised that the Network Development scheme for the provision of a new link footway on Carntall Road from the existing housing on Carntall Road to the Doagh Road junction has been completed.

He said that as no existing verge width was available for the provision of the footway, land was acquired for the proposed footway with a new hedge planted to the rear. The existing street lighting was also upgraded as part of the scheme.

The Department’s resurfacing and Network Development projects will provide benefits to both the local community and commuters in the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area.

Mr Porter continued: “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, particularly in pursuit of the draft programme for government outcomes.

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

“Recent independent reports have highlighted that funding for roads maintenance has been below the level required for some time. While we would like to have increased funding for structural maintenance this year, the best we have been able to do is to keep it at a similar level to last year and again include a ‘Roads Recovery Fund’ which gives flexibility to target those roads which have been adversely impacted by recent under funding.

“While this will enable the Department to plan to deliver a reasonable programme of resurfacing schemes in the Antrim and Newtownabbey 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 50mm.”