Bids are in for £2bn Sheffield highway maintenance PFI

Amey, Carillion and Colas have submitted their proposals for the project, which will give one of them a 25-year contract to service all aspects of the highway infrastructure in the third largest metropolitan authority in the UK.

Sheffield, the third largest metropolitan authority in the UK, has received three bids for a highway maintenance contract that could pump more than £2 billion (€2.3 billion; $3 billion) of investment into its roads, streetlights, bridges and other highway structures.

Infrastructure maintenance providers Amey and Colas and developer Carillion submitted the bids, which were received after a nine month period of “competitive dialogue” between the firms and Sheffield officials, the city said in a statement.

Sheffield aims to give one of the three a 25-year contract to service all aspects of the city’s highway maintenance, from improving road and footway surfaces to helping reduce the footprint of the highway network, according to the statement. Last year, Birmingham, the UK's second largest city, awarded a similar contract for its road maintenance.

Two of the three bidders will be invited to submit refined proposals in July 2010, Sheffield said, and the preferred provider will be selected in the spring of 2011. Contract work would begin August 2011.

The project being is delivered under the UK’s private finance initiative (PFI) programme for public-private partnerships. Last year, the UK government approved £673.1 million of PFI credits toward the project, which will be paid to the city as grants.

The sum is the single biggest allocation of PFI funding for any locality in the UK, according to Sheffield.

When combined with Sheffield’s existing highways budget and an additional £10 million per year in funding, the city estimates that the project will bring a total of more than £2 billion of investment to its highway structures. These comprise of 2,000 kilometres of road, 69,000 streetlights, more than 350 bridges and other structures and 35,000 highway trees.