The bill for the widespread damage done to the road network in Co Waterford during the severe winter is now estimated at €10million.

The destruction of the road network started in November with extensive flooding and was succeeded by a prolonged period of unusually cold weather interrupted by two further periods of heavy rain and sporadic flooding.

Senior Engineer Paul Daly told Monday’s County Council meeting in Dungarvan that their budget would be “stretched” to carry out as much repairs as possible. It the condition of roads did not significantly deteriorate this year then the network could be returned to near that pertaining in 2009.

Significant further progress could be made if the Dept of Transport continued to place emphasis on repairs in 2010, he said. “However, the assumption that there will be no further deterioration in 2010 is a significant assumption,” Mr. Daly admitted. The Council heard that the total expenditure in the 2010 Road Work Programme will be €15,165,277, of which the Co Council will have to provide 20%. This compares to expenditure of €14,079,353 in 2008 when the Council had to provide 23%. Overall this represented an increase in expenditure provision of 8% for the improvement and maintenance of roads in 2010. But it’s still significantly lower than the 2008 work programme budget of €20,347,155. Large sums are available in the current year for “patching” and “patching strengthening”.

Road worker numbers will remain at current levels and no temporary replacements of staff will be provided due to the Government embargo on recruitment. This would have an impact on certain areas but every effort would be made to reduce negative impacts arising, Mr Daly said.

Health and Safety procedures would not be compromised in the current year, he stressed, and staff would continue to ensure a safe place of work and safety for the general public. The maintenance of all roads in the Dungarvan urban area, except the national primary route, is now the responsibility of Dungarvan Town Council, and a formal agreement to that affect is in place.

Mr Daly said the main aim of the Council’s 2010 programme is the repair of roads in the county to the highest possible standard, with the provision of drainage improvements where budgets allowed. Seven Roads around the county still remain closed. Located in the Dungarvan, Tramore, Comeragh and Lismore areas, they will all be re-opened to traffic by the end of May, Director of Services Michael Quinn added. He said the general condition of roads has improved in the past month and experiments are being carried out with new patching materials with a view to replacing the traditional cold macadam which was only suitable for running repairs.

Five roads at Ardmore, Dunhill, Glendine and Dunmore East have been closed due to collapse and the risk of collapse of cliffs. Mr Quinn said the Strand Road in Dunmore East was expected to re-open for uphill traffic shortly. A draft report on the cliff collapse was due this week indicating whether or not the road can be opened for one-way traffic. Funding will be sought for repairs and the full restoration of the five roads in question. Appropriate interim traffic management measures will remain in place.