‘Derry verge cutting, road works and street lighting budget limited’

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TransportNI bosses have acknowledged the depth of road maintenance programming in the Derry and Strabane area in the months ahead will be severely restricted by the limited budget imposed upon the authority by its political overseers - formerly at Stormont, and now in Hillsborough.

TransportNI’s Western Divisional Roads Manager Conor Loughrey and the roads authority’s local Network Maintenance Section engineer, Robert McCartney told a special meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council Environment and Regeneration Committee on Tuesday that essential safety works will go ahead.

They also said curtailed verge-cleaning, road surfacing, street-lighting and traffic calming programming would go ahead and that the department looked forward to realising progress on major capital projects like the A5 and A6 as well.

However, they left councillors under no illusions as to the budgetary situation.

“The indicative budget outlined by the Secretary of State in April does mean that there are likely to be knock-on impacts for services including routine maintenance of the road network and in this area, the Department is likely to be reliant on additional resources becoming available,” said Mr. Loughrey.

He added: “The Department’s objective is to continue to deliver routine road maintenance services at the current level for as long as possible. While services will be constrained, we are planning to meet all essential public safety requirements.”

Mr. Loughrey said he recognised the prospect of a curtailed works programme was not what the committee or TransportNI workers wanted to hear but indicated the department’s hands were tied.The local roads chiefs delivered the bleak outlook while outlining DfI Roads Western Division Spring Report for 2017 in the Guildhall.

Despite the general budget stringency £160k has been allocated for Local Transport and Safety Measures in the district in 2017/2018. This will include traffic calming at Lonemoor Road, Braehead Road, Kensington Road, Brunswick Road and Ballynagard Road, and pelican and puffin crossing upgrades on the Creggan Road.

At least £157k will be also invested in local bridges including the completion of the refurbishment of the Foyle bridge gantry.

And at least £111,000 has been allocated for capital street lighting works locally with works in Bloomfield Park, Courtauld Way, Foyle Fold, Glenowen Park, Knockwellan Park, the Lecky Road Flyover and Milldale Crescent all scheduled.