Update on infrastructure projects for Mid & East Antrim Borough

The 'Science School' at The Braid Town Hall has been postponed to next year.

An update has been given regarding the Mid & East Antrim Council area by the Department for Infrastructure.

Divisional Roads Manager, Mr David Porter, said: “Over the past year, a number of significant resurfacing schemes have been completed including the B64 Springmount Road, B59 Tully Road, C64 Caherty Road, A42 Galgorm Road and A43 Cushendall Road.

“In addition, work was completed on the C66 Lisnamurrican Road, U2083 Tullynamullan Road, U4022 Croft Road, U4056 Ballyvallagh Road and C77 Ballypollard 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 footway at Rathkeel Road, Broughshane, is complete.

He said: “This scheme included localised road resurfacing, improvements for traffic emerging from Buckna Road onto Rathkeel Road and street lighting improvements.

“A scheme at Fenaghy Road, Cullybackey, is also complete and included the extension of the existing footway from Cullybackey for approximately 400 metres towards the Galgorm Manor Resort and Spa. This scheme will also improve the forward visibility for road users on the Fenaghy Road.

“These projects will provide widespread benefits to both the local community and enhance provision for all those walking and cycling, as well as those using roads in the Mid and East Antrim 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% 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 highlight that funding for roads maintenance has been below the level required for some time.

“Therefore, funding for structural maintenance will remain similar to last year and will 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 Mid & 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.”

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