Road Resurfacing Delays: Omagh

Oral Answers to Questions — Infrastructure – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 22nd November 2021.

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Photo of Nicola Brogan Nicola Brogan Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 22nd November 2021

T6. Ms Brogan asked the Minister for Infrastructure how much funding Omagh has lost this year as a result of ongoing road resurfacing delays. (AQT 1816/17-22)

Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party

I do not have that information to hand. Officials and I have allocated £80 million across all divisions, and we are working at pace to provide solutions for the contracts that have been affected as a result of the legal challenges. As part of that process, we were able to allocate an additional £5 million from October monitoring. I have asked officials to keep the financial situation under review so that we can maximise the investment going into our road network. Of course, the rural roads fund has had a 50% increase, and Omagh is benefiting from that. The legal challenge does not impact on that fund, and we will continue to roll that out in Omagh and across the North.

Photo of Nicola Brogan Nicola Brogan Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for her answer. The Minister will know that many of the roads in and around Omagh are in a terrible state. The longer the delays go on, the worse the roads get. Has the Minister assessed the road safety impact of the delays to resurfacing work?

Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party

Roads are inspected as part of the maintenance cycle and process undertaken by the Department, and any defects identified are marked for treatment. A priority is allocated to the level of the defect so that the most serious are fixed in the quickest possible time frame.

That work is therefore ongoing. It is not impacted on by the legal challenges. Of course, it again comes back to the nub of the issue, which is the historical underinvestment in our road network and the fact that that has prohibited a lot of work from taking place over many years. That underinvestment is also contributing significantly to the ongoing deterioration of our road network. We need to make sure that we have sufficient funding going to our roads. The Barton report identified a minimum requirement of £143 million per annum. That is at 2018 prices, so we will need to be looking at a much higher figure. By not investing in our road network, we are only making the situation worse.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:30 pm, 22nd November 2021

I have time for a brief question from John Blair and a brief answer from the Minister.