Thursday 14 December 2017

Council to tackle pothole problem

THERE IS good news on the horizon for people who live in potholeridden areas as Wexford County Council makes plans to extend a new patching system and generally upgrade its road maintenance fleet.

The Council is proposing to make a major investment in equipment and machinery to ensure that the roads network is maintained to a high standard.

Executive Roads Engineer Eddie Taaffe outlined the plans in detail at the monthly Council meeting, telling members about the proposed purchase of 15 mini-patching units for potholes as well as trucks and other machinery.

The Council has previously used the old method of day-set macadam instead of patching units spraying hot bitumen which are currently used to repair 100% of the roads in New Ross; 40% in Wexford; 40% in Enniscorthy and up to 70% in Gorey. The aim is to phase out the old method by early 2011 with the purchase of 15 patching units at a cost of €10,000 each.

' When a pothole is repaired with a patching unit, it will stay intact for longer', he said.

The Council is also planning to buy 32 pick-up trucks, the work horses of road maintenance, to replace the oldest existing vehicles, many of which are over 10 years old and are constantly breaking down.

'It will mean that our staff will have new pick-ups that won't be breaking down', said the Engineer.

He said the Council recently purchased a new hot bitumen truck at a cost of €35,000, that will supply bitumen to 10 gangs in the Wexford area from the depot in Whitemill.

It is also hoped to buy a combiunit next year for tarring and chipping smaller repairs in one cast. ' The cost is a quarter of a million Euro. We don't want to invest that kind of money unless we are sure. We have hired them from contractors this year and found them useful', said Mr. Taaffe.

The Council needs 12 temporary outdoor staff to bring employment levels up to the required full complement of 44 gangs of three operatives and the process of recruitment is underway.

The local authority must employ temporary staff due to the ban on full-time recruitment.

Outlining road staff levels locally compared to other counties, Mr. Taaffee said there is one employee for every 28 kilometres of road in County Wexford; 18.6 km in Donegal; and 10.7 km in Mayo. However, if you count administrative roads staff in Wexford, the figure is 20 km per employee.

'As regards efficiency, we are up there with the best even though we have a smaller number of employees by national standards,' he said.

The Council is building a new salt store in Whitemill, capable of storing 1100 tonnes of rock salt compared to the previous storage capacity of 450 tonnes. It is being funded by the National Roads Authority which is also financing the purchase of two new snow blades.

'Salt was a major issue last winter. We couldn't enough rock salt quickly enough', he said.

It will cost €6.26 million every seven years to replace road maintenance vehicles with the Council machinery yard purchasing the plant and hiring it out to the engineering areas.

The plan is to maintain a fleet of eight 26-tonne trucks that will be used for rock salt spreading in the winter months and road maintenance in the summer.

Cllr. Keith Doyle said the county's outdoor staff were to be complimented on their work.

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