NORTHERN IRELAND'S roads are receiving the lowest maintenance funding in the British Isles, according to a new report from the region's Audit Office.
The report shows that despite identifying an annual maintenance requirement of £80M, the Northern Ireland Roads Service spent £43M on maintenance last year. The £37M shortfall will add to a maintenance backlog already estimated at £100M.
The report argues that under funding also leads to poor value for money from the investment that is made. It says: 'Better economic solutions could be adopted if more funds were available.'
The report adds: 'Responsive maintenance such as patching and surface dressing, which currently account for over 40% of the total maintenance budget, will cost almost twice as much over a 25 year period as if the road was strengthened and resurfaced.'
The report points to a continued long term decline in overall funding for the Roads Service. In real terms funding had dropped at today's prices from £230M to £147.6M in the last 25 years.
The report will now be considered by the Northern Ireland Assembly's Public Accounts Committee.