Local authorities have a shortage of expertise when it comes to providing walking and cycling infrastructure, the Minister for Transport has stated.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (GP) outlined that 20 per cent of the entire annual transport budget over the next four years (€1.8bn) is going towards walking and cycling. With most of the investment going into cities, €50m was put aside for rural infrastructure in towns and villages.
Plans for the employment of 250 new engineers, urban and rural designers, landscape architects and planners to assist in the building of this infrastructure has been put in place nationally. “In some of the cities, they will be design teams within some of the Councils. In other counties, the way we are going to do it is with Regional Design Offices.”
New staff with the Local Authorities will build up and retain the expertise within local government, bypassing the need for consultants. This will work in conjunction with the Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and the National Transport Authority (NTA). A total of €90m will be taken from the €1.8bn over the next four years to build that expertise, the Minister outlined at an Active Travel webinar chaired by Senator Roisin Garvey (GP).
“Everyone knows that the constraint in getting anything done in increasing our system is the shortage of resources within local authorities, particularly skilled engineering, design and planning staff. We are converting some of the capital sum into current spending to allow us to do that. I think that has the potential to be transformative,” he stated.
Ryan added, “If local authorities don’t want to pick out that staff and don’t want to do this, then we will go to the local authorities that do. So, let’s pick winners here. That’s why you’ve set this webinar up Roisin, to ensure that Clare gets its fair share if not more of the available funding. It’s up to Clare County Councillors. We will fund, provide the staff, do whatever needs to be done. It’s about local support and it would be the making of our country”.