The launch of the procurement process for the next generation of North West and North East contracts follows the start of new network maintenance contracts in the South East and South West units last month.
Transport Scotland said the new contracts include improved resilience measures aimed at ensuring consistent, predictable and reliable journeys, as well as a renewed focus on achievement of climate change and sustainability targets.
Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, said: ‘Following the successful award and mobilisation of the first round of operating company contract in the south of Scotland, we are now turning to the trunk road network in the north of Scotland.
‘The two contracts will run for a minimum eight years, directly supporting around 650 operational and professional jobs in Scotland. They will also contribute to the economy through the wider supply chain, with local firms benefiting on a regular basis.'
Transport Scotland said the contracts are expected to be awarded in January 2022, with the existing contracts due to expire in August 2022.
It valued the contracts at around £950m, based on the guaranteed eight-year duration. However, there is an option extend the contracts up to 12 years and the contract notices valued the North West contract at £900m and the North East contract at £530m.
The contract notice for the North East states: ‘For strategic reasons connected with wider roads procurement requirements, contract coverage of (i) all; or (ii) of particular sections, of the A96 trunk road for the full term of the contract, is not confirmed at this stage.’
This appears to reflect uncertainty over the Scottish Government’s £3bn plan to dual 86 miles of single carriageway (pictured) between Inverness and Aberdeen.
BEAR Scotland, which last month took over the South East contract, currently holds both contracts in the North but will have to give up at least one of these under procurement rules, which stipulate that a contractor can only operate one contract in the North and one contract in the South.