The East Midlands – known as Area 7 by the organisation – is a testbed for Highways England to try out a return to a more traditional contract model, where the client takes more responsibility for managing its contractors rather than farming everything out lock, stock and barrel to a single agent.
As we reported in February, the Highways Agency (as it then was) had encountered problems with tendering its asset support contracts, which had replaced the previous managing agent contracts but still sought to farm out overall management responsibility to a single supplier in each region, who would then subcontract for specialist work.
Area 7 was previously looked after by managing agent contractor Aone+, a joint venture of Halcrow, Colas and Costain.
Highways England has now published the contract notice calling for expressions of interest from a wide range of specialist contractors, including fencing, lighting, signage, drainage, waterproofing and road markings, as well as pavement construction itself. In all there are 14 lots up for grabs in the Area 7 construction works framework, with each representing a different specialism.
The framework runs for four years and is one of four that are going out to tender for Area 7.
A 15-year maintenance and response contract was advertised in July, worth a potential £20m a year. Contracts for design work and for specialist services are also being prepared.