The Roads Act 1993 to 2007 established the National Roads Authority. It modernised the law regarding roads. Many of the key functions in relation to road development are undertaken by the Department of Public Expenditure with the consent of the Department of Finance.
The functions of the Minister in relation to compulsory acquisition of land under Roads legislation were transferred to Bord Pleanála in 2001. Accordingly, both the confirmatory functions in connection compulsory acquisition and approval of road development and schemes under certain parts of the Roads Act are to be undertaken by the Bord.
The maintenance and construction of all national and regional roads in a county or a city is a function of the council of that county or city. Subject to Part III of the Act mentioned below, the maintenance and construction of all national and regional roads in the county is a function of the councillors of that county.
It is also the function of the local authority to maintain and construct all local roads in its administrative area. The expenses of a county road were formerly charged on the county exclusive of any boroughs and town. Town councils or borough councils have been abolished.
In performance of its functions above, a road authority must consider the need of all road users. A person or group of persons may, with the consent of a road authority carry out repairs on a local road. Consent may be given subject to such conditions, restrictions and requirements as the road authority thinks fit.
Where a road authority gives its consent and the works have been carried out in a bona fide manner and in accordance with the requisite conditions, restrictions and requirements, the works shall be deemed to have been carried out by the road authority and the person who carried out the works shall be indemnified by the road authority against all actions and claims in respect of the works or carrying them out. A road authority may provide plant, materials, equipment and the services and staff to persons carrying out such works.
A road authority may provide any amenity, structure or thing for the safety or convenience of road users. It may undertake landscaping, planting or similar activity in the interests of amenity and the environment and may provide artistic features.
Notwithstanding the definition of a road, nothing is to be construed as imposing on a road authority any liability, duty or obligation to construct or maintain fences or retaining walls adjoining a public road which are the responsibility of any other person and do not form part of the road or to construct or maintain any bridges, tunnels, railway crossings which are the responsibility of a railway company or any other person by law.
A person, commits an offence if without lawful authority or the consent of the road authority, he defaces the road by writing or by other means damages a public road, excavates a public road or places or deposits any material or thing on a public road,
or permits dung or urine from an animal owned by him or any material or thing which falls from a vehicle, to be left on the public road or does any other thing, such that the material, thing, dung or urine or the doing of such other thing is a hazard or potential hazard to persons using a public road or obstructs or interferes with the safe use of the road or the maintenance of a public road.
A consent may be given by the road authority subject to such conditions, restrictions and requirements as it thinks fit. Failure to comply with any such condition constitutes an offence.
Where a person does anything in contravention of the above, a road authority may remove any defacement, repair or damage, removes a thing or reduce the hazard, potential hazard or obstruction and recover the costs, as a simple debt from the person who is responsible.
Where it appears to the National Roads Authority that an agreement ought to be made between roads authority for the purpose of their functions relating to national road, the Authority may request the roads authorities to enter agreement on such terms as the Authority specify.
Where the roads authorities refuse or fails to do so, the Authority may, after affording the opportunity of the road authorities to make representations in writing, direct them to enter an agreement in accordance with such terms and such direction, which must be complied with. The National Roads Authority can request the roads authorities to amend the agreement and the same provisions apply.
Agreements may be made between road authorities for the exercise by one authority of the functions of the other in the formers functional area. Two or more roads authorities may make arrangements for the joint discharge of their functions. The authority may request that they do so on such terms as are specified. If they refuse to do so, the Authority may, require them to do so, having given them the opportunity to make representations.
There are significant powers generally for the Minister to require roads authorities to exercise their functions jointly or by the exercise by one authority of the functions of another. The Minister may make a direction in writing to a road authority in relation to any of its functions under the Act or other legislation relating to maintenance or construction of public roads. The road authority must comply. A copy must be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The Minister may give policy and other guidelines to road authorities in relation to any of the functions assigned to them under any legislation relating to maintenance and construction of public roads. The authorities must have regard to the guidelines in performing their functions.
A roads authority shall not construct or reconstruct a bridge or viaduct over or a tunnel under a railway save with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure or over or under inland waterways save with the consent of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
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