By Aine McGlinchey
Around £800,000 is to be used to address the problem of potholes in areas of immediate need across the rural road network of Derry City and Strabane District Council (DCSDC). Drivers in Northern Ireland were paid £1.7m in compensation for pothole damage to vehicles from 2016 to 2019.
The 2020/21 structural maintenance capital budget is £75 million for Northern Ireland and £12m has been set aside for a road recovery fund of which £10 million is targeted towards rural roads.
“For Derry City and Strabane Council this translates to approximately £800,000 to be used to address areas of immediate need across the rural road network,” said Divisional Roads Manager, David McKinley.
Due to the unprecedented year of Covid, contractors were unable to work from mid-March until around mid-May 2020, which had a knock on impact on programmes. However, they have been working since May and June, to complete the infrasturcture schemes that were stopped.
Years of underinvestment has led to the deterioration of Northern Irish roads, the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said.
In the Derry and Strabane area from 2016 – 2019 there were 23,777 road defects reported costing £44,227.96 in compensation. Derry has already seen some work begin with a £63k resurfacing scheme on the U1529 Cornshell Fields, commencing on January 6 2021.
One local motoriset from Derry Ann Ward said “I went right into a pothole that I didn’t know was there. It scared the life out of me and it is very dangerous because it can cause accidents.
“I know a friend of mine’s car was damaged and they had to take a picture and they sent it to the DOE and eventually they got compensated for it.
“They seem to be just patching them up as opposed to dealing with the problem.”
In the 2020-2021 financial year it is proposed to resurface roads at an estimated cost of £2.5million from the annual report into the 2020 DCSDC from the Department for Infrastructure.
There was 52km of road resurfaced in the financial year 2019-2020 at a cost of £4.0 million. This includes £724k from the Roads Recovery Fund.
Motorist Mary Hegarty said, “You can go over a pothole and not even see it, especially in the dark and it damages your tyres, the shocks of the car and it can cause really quite bad damage to your car. If you try to swerve there are cars coming in the other direction so that’s dangerous as well.
“There’s far more cars in the road now and is the road strong enough to carry that and lorries? Look at the whole infrastructure, maybe they need to look at that. And the bad weather doesn’t help.”
Figures have been obtained from the Department of Infrastructure.