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Friday, 12th April 2024

Councillors express their frustration at lack of action on potholes

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Council staff show off their new pothole repair machine in April 2023. They'll need a fleet of them to get the county's pothole fixed in the forseeable future. 

By Andy Spearman

I have often been accused of talking through my backside but, as a frequent cyclist, my backside sends me messages about the state of the road surfaces. Every bump and crack in the road adds to the pain in my bum.

In July 2022 Louth County Council introduced a new pothole-fixing machine, the first of its kind in Ireland apparently, to help them in their war on potholes but I for one have never seen it in operation. Perhaps they should get a fleet of them.

Of course potholes, bad road surfaces, speed bumps and motoring problems generally are a long standing area of interest to local councillors, especially in the run up to local elections.

Back in the eighties this used to be referred to as “pothole politics” but that is a bit unfair because the state of the roads is always an important local issue and that is exactly what local representatives are for, to raise issues affecting local people.

This week Drogheda Life received several statements from Councillors on the pothole topic. Independent Councillor Declan Power voiced strong criticism of Louth County Council and Uisce Éireann regarding the unacceptable state of rural roadways, notably along the R166 from Termonfeckin to Drogheda.

Citing inadequate collaboration between the council and utility services, resulting in below-par road conditions, Cllr. Power urged Louth County Council to prioritise road repairs and hold Uisce Éireann accountable for promptly fulfilling their contractual obligations.

Power expressed frustration on behalf of residents and healthcare workers with the daily challenge of navigating these poorly maintained roads, despite paying road taxes.

For Labour Councillor Michelle Hall, the state of the roads has become something of an obsession probably because the roads around her native Termonfeckin look like they’ve been subjected to sustained air raids.

The by now infamous R166 is uncomfortable for motorists and it damages their cars. For cyclists it far too lethal to consider, so my bottom tells me.

“While some of this is due to the unprecedented rainfall levels caused by climate change, I believe that we aren't being served in a timely or efficient manner by Louth County Council” Cllr. Hall said.

Councillor Hall revealed that she had spent a lot of time recently marking all the potholes, subsidence and loose or submerged manhole covers within a 2km radius of her home on an app.

“In this small area alone I noted 62 defects! All of them need attention and none of them are covered under this year's Road Works Programme” she said. 

Like me, Cllr. Hall is a keen cyclist and she said that “you are literally taking your life into your hands cycling into Drogheda from rural areas as you swerve to avoid potholes or risk going over the handlebars if you hit one.

No, I didn’t ask about the state of her posterior, that would be rude, but I suspect she has the same problems in the buttocks area as me. 

Over on the faa side of town another Labour Councillor, Elaine McGinty secured unanimous support for an emergency motion for immediate action by Meath County Council to address the deteriorating state of the Beamore Road and Beamore Crossroads.

“The recent adverse weather has exacerbated the condition of the roads, but when combined with a significant increase in traffic and utility companies undertaking works, remedial works can no longer wait” Councillor McGinty, said.

"In recent weeks, the surface on the Beamore Road has deteriorated rapidly, presenting a serious threat to the safety of those who rely on it daily.... While the council have worked to remedy the situation in the short term, it is clear a longer more detailed plan and investment is needed.

The sad reality however is that the chances of Louth’s potholes being repaired any time soon are slim to non-existent. Louth County Council’s senior engineer told Councillors at the April 2023 Drogheda Borough meeting that it could be another 17 years before all of the roads are attended to.

The situation has deteriorated considerably since then thanks to the seemingly incessant rainfall. SO the battle of the potholes is a long way from being won. On yes’r bike Councillors and keep pedalling!

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