THIRTY YEAR privately financed concessions will be piloted on trunk roads, the Highways Agency confirmed this week.
Agency procurement director Steve Rowsell said that the Agency would be talking to consultants and contractors over the next 18 months and hoped to award a contract in one of its 14 zones in 2004 or 2005.
The deal, which could be worth up to £1.5bn to the winning bidder, would hand over planning and management of road maintenance and upgrades to the concessionaire.
'We are reaching a stage where we have some resource to develop this form of contract, ' said Rowsell, adding that it would help towards the Agency's 10 year commitment to fund 25% of road schemes privately.
'We will develop a model and consult with the industry which will take 12-18 months. We have got to be satisfied that this is deliverable first.'
The Privately Financed Managing Agent Contract (PFMAC) would complement the three seven year publicly funded MACs that are about to be awarded in the Agency's Midlands area.
Other existing Agency maintenance contracts are for three and five years. Rowsell added that a second PFMAC would not be introduced until around 2010.
The PFMAC could include major upgrades such as road widening which would be planned in by the concessionaire under a system of 'whole life costing'.