National Highways has confirmed the award of contracts worth £1.3 billion (US$1.6 billion) to maintain road surfaces on motorways and major A-roads in England.
The new agreements will promote the use of low-carbon materials and ensure a greater share of work is delivered by small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The contracts cover the supply of materials, plant and labour to carry out National Highways’ road surfacing (pavement) and construction works for National Highways’ Operations Division.
The new award, the third iteration of National Highways’ pavement framework, is split between nine lots, with a total of 12 suppliers appointed across the framework. Four of the suppliers are SMEs, which represents an increase on the previous framework, promoting growth in the sector and helping to drive regional investment. The contracts awarded to SMEs in the new framework account for over 8% of the total anticipated spend, which amounts to over £100 million (US$123 million).
The new framework also sees an increased focus on carbon reduction, with bidding organizations committed to annual carbon reduction activities within the timeframe of the contract.
Additionally, as part of this focus, National Highways designated warm mix asphalt as the contract’s default material of choice, which delivers up to 15% carbon savings per tonne in comparison to the previous default pavement material. It is also more durable and quicker to lay, meaning roads can be reopened to traffic faster.
National Highways is committed to cutting carbon emissions through construction and maintenance to net-zero by 2040 as part of its long-term approach to the environment.
The 4,500-mile road network is a key driver of the economy, being used by as many as 4 million vehicles each day to transport goods, allow people to reach the workplace and connect friends and families. Maintaining a good road surface is crucial for the safety and reliability of the network.
“Our road network and those who use it are the backbone of Britain,” says roads minister Richard Holden. “Well over 90% of journeys are by road, with millions using them every day – travelling for work, moving vital goods and to see friends and family. That’s why we’re delivering £1.3 billion of investment alongside National Highways to maintain these vital arteries of trade, commerce and family life, ensuring worn-down roads are renewed and potholes swiftly dealt with. Our road network keeps Britain moving and we’ll keep investing in it to ensure it stays that way.”
“Engaging an increased range of organizations from across the industry is a hugely positive step for us, allowing us to expand our supply chain and improve our resilience,” says Duncan Smith, executive director of operations at National Highways. “Having greatly reduced turnover requirements to encourage applications from SMEs, we are delighted that a number of these lots have been awarded to comparatively smaller organisations. We’re also happy to be working with some organizations that we haven’t worked with previously, and we look forward to building these new relationships. These contracts will also support our Net Zero Carbon Plan, which underpins all of our work now and in future years.”
National Highways has also incorporated its social value requirements into this framework, which will mean wider benefits for customers and communities as a result.
The new framework will support National Highways into the third Road Investment Strategy (RIS 3). The current strategy, RIS 2, ends in 2025.
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