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Sinn Féin calls for clarification on the use of Road surfacing material

23 February, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Regional Development, Raymond McCartney speaking from Belfast today has called on Roads Service to verify how much of the Main Trunk Network is affected by the use of Stone Mastic Asphalt (SMA).

SMA is a dense, gap-graded bituminous mixture with high contents of stone, filler and bitumen, modified with a suitable binder carrier such as cellulose fibre. The essential elements of mixture design comprise the formation of an interlocking stone skeleton that provides high resistance to deformation and the filling of the skeleton voids with a rich bituminous mortar to provide high durability.

Typical applications in mainland Europe have included heavily trafficked roads, airport taxiways and runways, bridge deck surfacing, container storage areas and bus stops.

" The development of this road surfacing material began in Germany in the 1960s. As I understand there are two main types of SMA - a generic form and a proprietary form. There appears to be considerable controversy over the use of the former type, which calls road speed, breaking distances, and road safety measures, into question.

"The National Roads Authority (NRA), the organisation responsible for maintenance of the Motorway and Trunk Road Network in the Twenty-Six Counties, has not made its position entirely clear vis-à-vis the use of both forms of Stone Mastic Asphalt. I will raise this matter with my Sinn Féin counterpart in Leinster House, Sean Crowe. If there is a discrepancy between the use of any form of this road surfacing material either on the Motorway, Dual Carriageways, the Main Trunk Network, or indeed Secondary or Regional roads, then I am calling for greater North - South Co-operation between both Road organisations. It is time that the road network forms part of an All Ireland Forum to apply a uniform planning, maintenance and island wide strategy to deliver the needs of transport provision.

"I have contacted the Roads Service and they have assured me that the generic SMA, is, from an engineering perspective a very safe, viable and widely used and approved alternative to hot rolled asphalt." ENDS

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