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Agency to shake up road deals

THE HIGHWAYS Agency is planning a major change to the way it procures maintenance for England's motorways and trunk roads.

The agency is considering using privately financed route-based maintenance contracts as an alternative to its 14 existing area Term Maintenance Contracts and Managing Agent Contractor (MAC) arrangements.

The move is intended to keep the Highways Agency on track for its promise to carry out 25 per cent of all work in its 10year plan using private finance.

In its procurement strategy last year the agency confirmed its commitment to developing a private finance version of its Managing Agent Contractor contract.

The contracts were to be longer term, privately financed versions of the MAC contracts, to be let on a geographical basis across the agency's 14 areas.

But the award procedures for the PF MAC could not start until existing maintenance deals ran their their course. The first of these, Area 2 in Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire, will not come up for renewal until at least 2004.

A Highways Agency insider said: 'We are looking at something different to the idea of the PF Mac.

'Instead we will look at a route-based strategy covering lengths of motorway rather than one of our areas.'