I was interested to read about the Highway Agency's innovative Pathfinder project on the A500 (NCE 21 June). I wish it every success in this pilot scheme. In fact it seems very familiar, being, as far as I can judge from the article, the same as a contract the Highways Directorate of the Welsh Office let four or five years ago.
The intention was to confirm the feasibility of involving the construction team in the scheme design much earlier than we had previously achieved. In the past, using design and build contracts postinquiry meant that most of the scheme parameters had been determined and the opportunity for innovation limited.
We appointed the contractor immediately after the public consultation and before the inquiry with the task of taking the scheme through final design and the public inquiry stage, working alongside his design consultant to produce the most economic scheme.
Unfortunately we were caught up in the cutbacks in highway expenditure a few years ago and the scheme was put on hold with the contractor well into the initial stage.
I hope the Agency's scheme can prove the viability of the approach we tried ourselves.
KJ Thomas (F), former director of highways, National Assembly for Wales.