Department for Infrastructure officials have said they are aware of widespread concerns over potholes in Derry, but insist budget pressures are impacting on maintenance.
The Department was speaking in answer to frustration and concern expressed by local people and elected representatives over the sheer volume of potholes and other road defects across the city.
As of this week, road users have reported potholes along Racecourse Road, Ballyarnett, Culmore Road, Iniscarn Road, Northland Road, Tamnaherin Road, Otterbank Road, Broadbridge, Ardlough Road, Springtown Road, Lone Moor Road and Lansdowne Road among others.
Some local motorists have also reported damage to vehicles as a result of the problem.
Local councillors have called for efforts to be redoubled to try to repair the damage which the Department has said has been exacerbated by the recent winter weather.
Sinn Féin Councillor for the Ballyarnett area, Sandra Duffy, has written to Transport NI asking for a full assessment of the state of the Racecourse Road at Ballyarnett.
She said: “This road has become a patchwork of dangerous potholes. I have been inundated by local residents who have complained about damage to their cars’ suspension and tire blowouts as a result of hitting these potholes.”
SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack encouraged people to pursue compensation following any damage to their vehicles by potholes. She said: “I would encourage anyone who finds themselves in this position to collate as much evidence as possible with pictures of the cause and of the damage to your car. Advice and claim forms can be found on the NIDirect website or you can contact your local office Claims Unit at Orchard House or call 03002007810.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Fleming said there were also dangerous pot holes across rural areas. “I fully understand the pressures that Transport NI are under with repairs but I would ask them, where possible, to prioritise the repair of pot holes on busy roads,” he said, adding: “I would call on members of the public to contact Transport NI to alert their attention to any roads that require repair.” Many of these issues, he says, can be reported online: www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/report-pothole.
A Department for Infrastructure spokesperson said: “The Department has been operating in a challenging budgetary position for some time and this has been having an impact on all road maintenance activities and the condition of the road network.
“In addition, the recent winter weather has had an impact on the road network with water ingress and freeze thaw action after heavy rainfall and cold snaps leading to the formation of more potholes. DfI Roads are aware of the current issue with potholes in the Derry area and all available resources will be mobilised to address this issue as quickly as possible.”
The spokesperson said that public safety remained a key priority and, despite the budgetary situation, the Department has, in this financial year, delivered a significant programme of resurfacing and surface dressing and continues to carry out routine maintenance, including pothole repairs, to meet all essential public safety requirements.
“There is a balance to be struck between building new roads and public transport provision and maintaining what we already have,” he said. “The Department of Finance recently published a briefing paper which outlines the impact of a number of future budget scenarios and we would welcome comments. Any decisions on budget allocation will be for a future Minister for Infrastructure. As always and, in particular during periods of bad weather, we would encourage road users to be mindful of road conditions and adjust the way they drive, ride or cycle to ensure it is appropriate for the conditions.”