A PILOT scheme for the repair of roads less travelled by will see communities in Limerick stump up over €92,000 for their improvement.
This new approach – dubbed the Community Involvement Scheme – could see 22 rural boreens around the county, most of them cul-de-sacs serving a handful of dwellings and farms, given an additional €370,000 from the state.
The scheme sees communities contribute around 20% of the total cost of resurfacing, patching or other minor roadworks, with the county council being allocated grants from the Department of Transport for the balance.
In County Limerick, a number of applications have been approved for the Galbally/Ballylanders area, while there is another concentration of schemes in the offing between Newcastle West and Dromcollogher. Other areas that could benefit include Bruree, Mungret, Kilcornan, Kilmeedy, Kilfinane, Kilbehenny, Abbeyfeale and Kildimo, where the road concerned serves a single dwelling and a “community contribution” of €2,100 is sought for a road served mostly by farm vehicles.
Most of the roads, according to Cllr Jerome Scanlan, are single lane boreens or rural cul de sacs that were taken in charge by the local authority more than 10 years ago. To have got to this stage, local communities will already have expressed an interest in having the works costed and their contribution worked out.
“The local community have requested that the costings be done and they have now been done. We have got department agreement that they can be done. Now it’s up to individual communities to ensure they come up with their share of the money,” said Cllr Scanlan.
Asked whether it was odd that members of the public were being asked to pay for the maintenance of what were effectively public roads, Cllr Scanlan said residents here were more fortunate than those whose roads had never been taken in charge by the council.
“I could take you to several local roads that were never taken in charge by the council and it is up to the people living along these roads to maintain them themselves. Here the government is at least paying for most of it, with a contribution of 20% from the community,” said Cllr Scanlan.
Deputy Dan Neville, meanwhile, has also welcomed the scheme.
“Given the difficult economic climate, local authorities have a limited budget within which to repair and maintain roads across Limerick. The priority of a local authority’s repair programme tends to be on maintaining the main roads in the county. However, the community involvement scheme gives the power to local communities in Limerick to identify lesser-trafficked roads that need to be repaired or maintained which would not usually be considered for funding,” he said.
“The community involvement scheme is a prime example of how this government is achieving more with less by introducing innovative ways of getting the country back on its feet,” Deputy Neville added, explaining that communities could contribute labour or machinery in place of hard cash.
Nationally, around €14 million worth of work is to be completed at a cost to the Exchequer of €10.6 million in this fashion.