Long-term engineering solutions on the Isle of Wight to keep open some of the Island’s most unstable stretches of road are to be included in the Highways PFI.
It will mean highways including the Military Road, Bouldnor Road and the Undercliff at Niton should remain open until at least 2038 when the Highways PFI contract will finish.
The commitment to solving the geotechnical problems that have caused some of the most difficult transport issues the council faces are highlighted in a report on the PFI scheme due to be discussed by the authority’s cabinet next week (May 29).
The report published today (Monday 21) also highlights other services that will be included in the scope of the PFI over and above the upgrading the 818 kilometres of the Island’s publicly adopted highways network.
This includes the replacement of its near 12,000 streetlights with low energy bulbs that will save energy and money while the scheme will also include maintaining and upgrading all footways, footpaths and cycleways, 209 bridges and 621 retaining walls, drainage, street furniture, signs, street nameplates and road markings, traffic signals, grass cutting and street maintenance winter maintenance and highways emergencies.
The contract will also include all CCTV cameras that are on the highway network and these will be linked into a central control room that will also provide around the clock coverage of the approaches to Yarmouth Harbour bridge to allow it to be opened remotely should the need to do so arise at times other than those agreed with the harbour master.
The council currently spends around £8.3 million providing all these services. Under the PFI that contribution will be around £7 million a year.
Final decision on bidder soon
Cabinet members on 29 May will be asked to endorse the organisation chosen by the council’s project board to provide the services and also ratify the details of the project scope – the Final Business Case. This will then be submitted to the Department for Transport and the HM Treasury for final approval.
Councillor Edward Giles, Isle of Wight Council cabinet member responsible for highways, transport and waste, said he was delighted the complex but necessary procurement process was nearing its end ahead of the start of work in April next year.
“All of us who use it know that the Island’s roads network requires massive investment to bring it up to the standards we all want,” he said.
“The highways PFI will finally bring the investment required and will do so in a way that provides excellent value for council tax payers. Through months of detailed negotiation with bidders we have secured a contract that will mean we will be able be providing more services at a higher specification but at less cost to the council.
“I am sure most people will welcome that both as road users and as council tax payers.”
The majority of the money required to undertake the highways PFI will be in the shape of a £260 million Government grant – money that does not have to repaid.
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