THE National Roads Authority (NRA) has hit out at accusations it is building "ghost" motorways.
Heritage body An Taisce claimed there had been "chronic misspending" on motorways at a time when there were 22,000 fewer drivers on Irish roads.
It said the NRA was using seven-year-old data predicting traffic growth of up to 3pc annually, even though traffic had fallen by 7pc in the past two years.
In a statement, An Taisce claimed the new network of motorways would become "ghost roads" as oil prices rose and traffic fell even further.
"The NRA's proposals for 850km of additional motorway is a charter for gross misspending," it said. "What Ireland needs is a proper national public transport plan, not legacy projects left over from a boom time."
However, NRA director of corporate affairs Michael Egan dismissed the criticism and said the authority was building a roads network for 20 years ahead.
"Take the old Dublin Cork road. If that upgrade had not happened there would have been chaos," he said.
"And the M50 was regarded as the biggest car park in Europe as it had reached saturation point."
Mr Egan dismissed claims the NRA was using out-of-date projections for traffic. He said traffic figures were on the NRA website and there for anyone to see.
"We are completely open about this data," he added.