HIGHWAY MANAGEMENT and term maintenance contracts will be combined nationwide by 2005, the Highways Agency confirmed this week.
The Agency invited prequalification bids for three combined managing agent and contractors (MACs) this week. They will take over from traditional managing agents and term maintenance contractors.
The rest of the network will follow, said Highways Agency head of procurement Steve Rowsell.
'It's certainly our expectation to extend MACs to the whole of the country. In principle the whole of the trunk road network will be maintained by a MAC by 2005, ' he said.
Confirmation that three of the next five maintenance contracts will be MACs in areas 7, 9 and 11 in the Midlands, has sparked frenzied activity in the industry.
WS Atkins confirmed this week that it had formed an open ended joint venture with Accord Jarvis called Optima specifically to bid for MACs.
Mott MacDonald announced it had formed InterRoute joint venture with Raynesway Construction while WSP has teamed up with Ringway Construction.
Mouchel said it was in talks with Amey, its existing partner, on area 19 and with other potential partners. Babtie said it was still in talks with unnamed contractors.
'Everyone is talking to each other at the moment, ' said Mouchel director Keith Jackson.
Of the five contracts soon to be renegotiated, Cornwall and Devon and the area around Manchester will be procured under the traditional approach for 'operational' reasons but would be tendered as MACs next time round, said Rowsell.