A £2.7 billion plan to transform all of Birmingham’s roads and pavements has finally won Government approval.
Transport Minister Paul Clark rubber-stamped the biggest Private Finance Initiative deal of its kind, which will see engineering giants Amey handed a 25-year city council contract to improve and maintain 1,500 miles of highways.
The firm’s first challenge will be to tackle the worst outbreak of potholes in living memory – the result of the coldest winter for decades.
But Amey won’t take charge until June and the deal will be too late to help ease the council’s immediate financial headache.
The city budget for winter repairs has already been increased by £2 million following damage caused by weeks of ice and snow.
Amey has promised to pour £350 million into upgrading roads and pavements and providing thousands of new street lights in the first five years of the contract.
At least 300 new jobs will be created on top of the existing 300-strong council highways workforce, although all of the employees will work for Amey.
The Department for Transport will provide funding of £600 million towards the total cost of the scheme.
Amey beat off rival consortium Birmingham Street Services to win the contract, nine years after the PFI deal was first proposed.
The company will be responsible for looking after 94,000 street lights and 400 bridges as well as the entire highways network.
Mr Clark said: “This contract will see the condition of Birmingham’s roads greatly improved and will include the maintenance of footways, bridges, street lighting and traffic signals.
“This is about getting on with the job and making sure the streets of Birmingham are fit for purpose, for businesses, for people going about their daily work and for visitors.”
Birmingham transport cabinet member Len Gregory promised a step change in the condition of the city’s roads.
Coun Gregory (Con Billesley) added: “There is no way we could have done this without the £600 million from the Department for Transport.”