THE COST of Ireland's roads programme has nearly doubled due to construction inflation, increased land costs and design upgrades, it emerged this week.
A spokesman for Ireland's National Roads Authority told NCE that between £3.1bn and £3.7bn would need to be added to the £4.2bn 2000 to 2006 National Development Plan.
The spokesman put the hike down to underestimation of road construction inflation which has hit 20% since 1999.
There were also significant changes to road schemes including motorway upgrades, and extra money was awarded to landowners after a lengthy dispute with farmers in 2001.
Ireland's budget last week allocated £750M for spending on new roads next year, £120M more than had been indicated last month. Most of this will go to a number of large projects including the ongoing Dublin Port Tunnel and the 40km public private partnership-built M4 Kilcock to Kinnegad motorway due to start next year.
The NRA spokesman said the extra money should allow up to seven new starts in 2003, the first since 2001. These will be picked in the spring from 27 schemes which have already completed statutory approval hurdles.