Six years of delays, legal wrangles, bidding wars and political manoeuvring are set to end later this month when Birmingham City Council finally awards a £2.2 billion contract to repair and maintain its roads over the next 25 years.
First launched in 2003, the Birmingham Highways Private Finance Initiative, the largest of its kind in the UK, is set to be announced at the council’s Cabinet meeting on July 27.
Two rival companies Amey and Birmingham Street Services, a consortium of Ringway, WSP, John Laing Investments and Vinci Concessions, are competing for the contract to oversee the upgrade, repair and ongoing maintenance of 1,500 miles of road, 94,000 street lights, traffic signals, tunnels and pavements.
The delays on a contract which was supposed to begin in 2006 have been blamed on the cautious, critics would say over-cautious, approach of city Cabinet member for transport and street services Coun Len Gregory.
Conservative Gregory inherited the scheme from the previous Labour administration when he was appointed to the council Cabinet in summer 2004.
January saw the last of many scheduled announcements pass by when Coun Gregory sent back the bids for confirmation that both companies’ credit and finances were in place in the wake of the banking crisis.
The rivals have been told they must bring the city’s highways network up to world class standards.