Amey directors have said progress on a £2.2 billion contract to resurface the highways is going “tremendously” despite a spate of complaints from residents.
PFI contractor Amey have been working to improve the city’s highways under a 25-year contract with Sheffield City Council.
So far contractors have resurfaced 15 million square meters of road around the city in the past six years, the equivalent of 200 football pitches.
Darren Butt, Streets Ahead account director at Amey, said the first six years has already seen a huge improvement in the overall condition of the roads.
He said: “Overall the programme is going very, very well. All the resources and suppliers are doing a fantastic job and we are perfectly on target.
“But as you can imagine with the volume of people there are around the network there is always going to be changes to programme and occasions where, unfortunately, we will need to apologise to residents where we don’t meet the dates we advertise and some things might move.”
Mr Butt added that this year has seen a peak in activity with around 1,000 roads being resurfaced.
Although, it has not been a completely smooth ride.
A number of residents have complained about the quality of the work with some confusion around when micro-surfaced roads were finished.
More recently there have been concerns Amey are “cutting costs” and going back on promises to resurface certain roads.
Residents on Riverdale Road, in Endcliffe, were recently dismayed when Amey announced it would not be resurfacing their “horrendous” road.
In a bid to avoid confusion and ease complaints, Amey will soon be issuing guides answering questions and the “dos and don’ts” during work as well as explaining the staged process of micro-surfacing.
Mr Butt said: “The guides are about communicating with the public about what we’re doing and trying to minimise contact with the press and our customer service team.”
Some have complained that micro-surfacing, a thinner layer of treatment used for surface damage, was being used as a cheaper alternative to traditional surfacing, which is used when roads have structural damage.
Mr Butt said: “Yes, costs are a very important part of the work but investment is what we are looking to do.
“All the treatments that we are using are defined within the contract. We are concerned with resurfacing and maintaining it for the next 17 years – it would be very short-sighted of us to put the wrong treatment down now then have to do further treatments later or earlier. So we are always making sure it is the right solution for the right road.
“The key thing to remember is you can’t put a micro-surface onto a micro-surface. You may not get the traditional treatment today but you will get them next time round. And we have another 19 years to go so people will see us again.”
Gary Kemp, senior planning manager, said there is an annual review of all the roads each year where every road is reassessed.
He said during this process Amey will add or remove roads from the programme depending on their assessment at that time.
Mr Kemp said: “The assessment never really stops, because the city is live and moving constantly and developments are coming and going beside the roads which we need to consider. We are constantly reassessing each of the roads, and with over 1,000 roads you do get movement within that.
“The overall condition of Sheffield’s roads when we came in was so poor that there were a lot of roads that just needed to be dug up.
“The majority of that work has been done now and the overall condition has improved tremendously and we are on to roads that aren’t as old but still needs treatment.
“But the assessment methodology has never changed and it’s all based on ‘what does that road need at that time’.”