Roading tenderers 'all met the standard'
The Downer-led group which won the seven-year maintenance contract for South Canterbury's state highway network was the lowest of four bids.
But the New Zealand Transport Agency says all four "met the required standard".
NZTA spokesman Pete Connors said the four bidding groups were Downer, a Fulton Hogan-led consortium, a Higgins Contractors-led group and Invercargill-based South Roads - with prices ranging from $69.9 million (Downer) to $81.9m. He would not confirm which group offered the highest price.
"Price is one factor when assessing a bid, but it's only one of many. Quality is assessed before opening the price envelopes," Mr Connors said.
"All four of the bids met NZTA's requirements."
Mr Connors said the new contract would come into effect in April. The contract could be extended to a maximum of nine years. However, NZTA could also re-tender the contract after three years if it felt targets were not being met.
Traditionally, NZTA has offered maintenance contracts ranging from one to three years.
"We have spoken to industry about this approach. The market is competitive, but longer contracts allow for greater surety for staff and management of the successful firms," Mr Connors said.
He said the contract would cover general maintenance.
"We know from history and past experiences what sort of weather could affect roads ... obviously, we expect snow clearance and gritting to be required during winter.
"There will be lots of ‘rats and mice' work, such as fixing up road signs as well."
From August to October last year, the South Canterbury roading networks were hit by the strongest winds in decades.
Mr Connors said major or "unexpected work" - such as repairing damage caused by extraordinary weather events or earthquakes - could be regarded as separate projects.
"We have our key measures, but you can't plan for all weather. This is a flexible approach from us," he said.
Mr Connors said bridge repairs, bridge construction, new roads and road alignments and safety works would also go out for tender separately.
Downer formed a partnership with engineering services provider GHD, surfacing supplier Isaac, Paul Smith Earthmoving and vegetation control operator GSL to deliver the new contract.
Mr Connors said there were several monthly performance measures to measure the contractors' responsiveness and also the quality of work.
- The Timaru Herald