Department rejects road criticism by O’Dowd

Education Minister John O'Dowd.
Education Minister John O'Dowd.

The decision to resurface a road at a cost of £37,000 has been defended by the Department of Regional Development (DRD).

The work had been criticised by Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd, who claimed it was unnecessary.

Mr O’Dowd said £37,000 had been spent on the B3 Gilford to Scarva Road, while on other roads, pot holes remained unfilled, road markings had disappeared and grass verges were left to grow wild.

He said the road had been completely refurbished a number of years ago and remained in very good condition. “On a daily basis we are being told that the Roads Service has no money and cannot carry out basic repair and maintenance to the road network,” he said.

However, a DRD spokesperson said Transport NI had, in the past number of years, resurfaced many stretches of road, including the B3 Gilford to Scarva Road using bitumen macadam.

She added, “In order to protect the relatively expensive surface material, and to increase its longevity, it is necessary to seal the surface with a layer of bitumen and chippings.

“The bitumen acts as a sealer to prevent the ingress of water and moisture and the chippings provide skid resistance to vehicles. This is a well established process which is used worldwide to increase the longevity of road surfaces, particularly in the UK and Ireland where the climate is wetter.”

She said the £37,000 came from capital funding and was different from resource funding which is used for day-to-day maintenance such as grass cutting, pothole repairs and gully emptying.

“The Minister has already stated the department is facing a £60 million resource budget pressure in 2015/16,” she added.