Highways England signals U-turn on roads upkeep control

Aaron Morby 3 years ago
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Highways England has abandoned plans to bid four asset support style contracts worth over £1bn to bring control of maintenance work in-house.

The U-turn on ASCs follows its decision to trial a new maintenance regime on Area 7 in the Midlands earlier this year.

At the time the agency said it still intended to go-ahead with bid competitions for Cornwall and Devon (Area 1); Somerset, Avon, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire (Area 2); Cumbria and parts of Lancashire (Area 13); Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Durham and North Yorkshire (Area 14).

But yesterday Highways England confirmed it would now bring control and management of the maintenance work in-house, preferring to select individual contractors to deliver specific elements of the work in each region.

A Highways England spokesperson said: “We are tasked with delivering the largest roads investment programme in a generation and in order for us to deliver on such a scale at the same time as maintaining the strategic road network, we have to work in a flexible, responsive and efficient way.

“So we have decided our delivery arrangements need to evolve in some areas, and will therefore be adopting the asset-led delivery model which we are using in the East Midlands (Area 7) in areas 1, 2, 13 and 14.

“This will include key functions such as design management, routine management and construction work.

“This will enable us to take more ownership of investment decisions and to increase our intelligence on local factors that influence where work is needed. By directly engaging suppliers we will help drive down cost and waste, providing the best possible value for money for taxpayers.”

Highways England also confirmed ASC areas 4 and 12, which were further advanced in the procurement process, will see contract awards shortly.

New bid packages under in-house regime

Replacement contracts are expected to be broken down into:

Maintenance and Response Contract: — Routine highway maintenance work; defect repairs, emergency incident response; delivering a severe weather service; and other similar duties;

Capital Delivery (works) Contract — civil engineering works including earthworks; fencing, landscaping; road restraints; drainage and ducts; pavements, kerbs, footways, paved areas; traffic signs and markings; road lighting and electrical work for lighting; structures — piling and retention walls and structural concrete; waterproofing; painting; and any other similar duties;

Design Contract — Preparing technical designs and undertaking supporting work for capital projects from an initial brief stage to as-built details including project enabling tasks and other similar duties;

Specialist Support Services Contracts — May include but not limited to, technical surveys; laboratory testing; road safety audits, principle inspections, meteorological forecasting;

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