Amey has beaten a Laing O’Rourke/Vinci/WSP bid to be appointed as preferred bidder for Birmingham’s £2.7bn highways maintenance and management private finance initiative (PFI) contract.
The contract is the largest ever signed by a local authority, and will pave the way for further similar schemes, such as the £2bn Sheffield roads PFI.
More than 300 jobs will be created in the city; with a further 300 staff likely to transfer from Birmingham City Council to work on the project with Amey following financial close, expected in October, with work due to begin in 2010.
Birmingham City Council has already appointed Hewitt Freeborn Associates Ltd to lead the project team. Its director Steve Freeborn said: “This project has an initial capital investment of £350M along with PFI credits of £608M; it’s the first time there has been an all-in-one contract for highways services and it will transform service and infrastructure in the region,” he said.
Amey will operate and maintain Birmingham’s highways infrastructure – including 2,500 KM of road network, nearly 100,000 street lights, as well as over 850 highway structures and bridges across the city for 25 years.
The bulk of investment will come in the first five years to remove the backlog of work and increase standards, followed by higher expenditure for a further 20 years to maintain the city’s highway infrastructure.
Leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Mike Whitby, said: “The City Council is leading the way with this pathfinder project that will provide a significant capital investment in our roads. The process to reach a Preferred Bidder appointment has rightly been a detailed one. We received two very good bids and these have been evaluated thoroughly. We believe Amey can help the City Council deliver this significant investment in the highway and give Birmingham the improved highway network it deserves.
“Our next steps will be to work with Amey to finalise the contract details. After the contract is signed, we will continue to work closely together to draw up detailed implementation plans, with the intention of commencing work in April 2010.”
Amey chief executive Mel Ewell said: “Birmingham and the surrounding area is one of the most important road networks in the UK, providing essential transport links between some of the country’s largest industrial and metropolitan hubs and we are looking forward to improving the city’s highway infrastructure for the benefit of all those who live, work and travel in it.”
The contract includes the improvement and repair of the roads in Birmingham, including maintenance of footways, bridges, street lighting and traffic signals as well as the upkeep of street scenery such as safety barriers, seats and trees.
Amey will also play a part in supporting development of the traffic management strategy for the city’s road network. The aim is to implement new technology systems to support the Council in reducing congestion and improving
Amey project director Frank Coldwell said: “The initial part of the contract will see substantial investment in the city meaning the local workforce will receive a huge boost as jobs will be created in all areas of the city.”
Amey currently employs over 1,000 people in the region. Earlier this year the company announced its intention to open an International Design Hub in the city, -now confirmed as Colmore Plaza - in order to consolidate its existing consultancy team and 250 designers, plus a further 500 professional design engineers.