John Watts, minister for railways, roads and local transport, said:
'I welcome the announcement that the latest DBFO contract has been awarded to Autolink. It marks the completion of the second group of DBFO road projects taken forward by the Highways Agency which has been at the forefront of the Private Finance Initiative. Nationally, this is the eighth DBFO scheme to be awarded and the third in the North-East region.
'The consortium will take over direct responsibility for the road, including upgrading a section of the A19 from Norton to Parkway which will help alleviate congestion on this section near the River Tees Viaduct.
'Thanks to this form of the Private Finance Initiative, much-needed road schemes can proceed earlier than might be the case if they were dependent on just public funding.'
The consortium will take over direct responsibility for the operation and management of the A19/A168 from near Dishforth to the Tyne Tunnel for a period of 30 years. The contract will also cover the A174 Parkway, the A1053 and a short length of the A66 to Teesside Park.
New construction will include upgrading the A19 from dual two-lane to dual three-lane between Norton to Parkway, near Middlesbrough. At present only the section over the River Tees is a three lane dual carriageway.
Tree planting will be carried out to help blend the upgraded section of the road between Norton to Parkway into the surrounding landscape to reduce the visual impact. Also, earth mounds will be created on either side of the road and fences will be erected to minimise the noise from increased traffic.
In return for carrying out the contract, Autolink will receive payments from the government over the lifetime of the contract based primarily on traffic with different 'shadow' tolls payable according to traffic level. There will be a ceiling on the amount of 'shadow' tolls payable.
Autolink will take over operation and maintenance of the trunk road from early 1997 and one of its first tasks will be to carry out the upgrading.