NRA outsources upkeep of 750km of motorway

Contracts are initially for five years, with option for two-year extension

The work involved in the NRA contracts with three private contractors will range from grass-cutting to repairing safety barriers and responding to incidents. Photograph: Pat Langan

The work involved in the NRA contracts with three private contractors will range from grass-cutting to repairing safety barriers and responding to incidents. Photograph: Pat Langan

Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 01:00


The National Roads Authority has outsourced the maintenance of almost 750km of motorway and dual-carriageway to three private contractors in a five-year deal worth €150 million. As a result local authorities will no longer be required to maintain motorways.

Fred Barry, chief executive of the NRA, said the work ranged from grass-cutting to repairing safety barriers and responding to incidents. He said the NRA was taking a more hands-on role to managing the network and would oversee the work.

He said there had been a positive reaction from local authorities to the change, and one or two had even asked if the NRA could take over responsibility for additional roads.

The contractors all started work this week.

He said outsourcing should prove more cost-effective for the taxpayer, mainly due to economies of scale.

The annual value of the contracts is estimated at €20-30 million per year. The range is to account for unforeseen events such as exceptionally heavy flooding.

The contracts are initially for five years, with the option for a two-year extension.

Mr Barry said the State had invested €12 billion in motorways and dual-carriageways over the past decade and it was vital this investment was adequately maintained.

Three regions
Each contractor has been given responsibility for maintaining roads in one of three regions; Globalvia Sacyr Jons in the greater Dublin area; Colas Roadbridge in the Midlands and west; and Egis Lagan in the south and east. Each consortia has one Irish-based component.

As part of the contracts seven depots have been set up to provide storage for up to 50,000 tonnes of salt for gritting icy roads.

Mr Barry said payment structures meant that if companies failed to meet performance targets they would get less money.

Roads operated under public-private partnerships – mainly those where tolls apply – are excluded from the contracts as the firms operating these routes provide maintenance.

Outsourced
Mr Barry said it was unlikely that responsibility for maintaining local and regional routes would be similarly outsourced, although this was a political decision.

“Local authorities have a wealth of local knowledge and can probably do it more efficiently than we as a centralised national agency could do it.”