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Highways boss explains new procurement model

roadworks sign swindon

A fresh wave of firms could soon be winning work on the major roads network, Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan has revealed.

Speaking to New Civil Engineer at its UK Transport conference, he said the body’s procurement shake-up could see opportunities for a broader range of civils companies during Road Investment Strategy 2.

Much of the work through the £15bn first Road Investment Strategy (RIS1), which was launched in 2015, has gone through Highways England’s four-lot collaborative delivery framework (CDF).

This is due to run out of capacity in late 2018, and the client body is consulting on a replacement procurement arrangement, to be known as Routes to Market.

Speaking to New Civil Engineer this week, O’Sullivan said: “Unlike the CDF, Routes to Market will not cover all our activities.”

He confirmed that major projects such as the Lower Thames Crossing and the A303 tunnel near Stonehenge would be procured outside the new framework – and added that subcontractors could win some small schemes.

“At the top end, for Lower Thames Crossing and the A303 we will use bespoke contracting; for maintenance and renewals we are moving ever towards our asset delivery model … this will give the opportunity for smaller companies to be involved.

“Our expectation is that not all renewals and minor capital enhancement work will go to tier one suppliers.  

“There will be more opportunity for more firms to get involved in RIS2. We welcome that.”

A Highways England spokesman said a market engagement event in May was attended by a “very high percentage of people we had not worked with before”.

Meanwhile this week, a proposed upgrade to junction 25 of the M25 won support in a public consultation.

The plans – which would see extra lanes added to the roundabout where the London orbital motorway meets the A10 in Hertfordshire, as well as other improvement measures – were backed by three in four people taking part.

Meanwhile, Highways England has today announced its executive director for major projects and capital portfolio management, Peter Adams, will be leaving the company at the end of August to join London City Airport.

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