It is with enormous sadness that Highways reports on the death of our friend Steve Berry OBE, head of highways maintenance, innovation, resilience, light rail and cableways at the Department for Transport (DfT).
Mr Berry was diagnosed with incurable cancer towards the end of last year. At his own request, he continued working at the DfT up until a few months ago. He died on Wednesday evening at his home, surrounded by his family.
In a condolence letter sent out to the sector this morning, Stephen Fidler, co-director of local transport, described Mr Berry as 'nothing short of a legend in highways maintenance, and wider local transport circles'.
'You don’t need me to tell you that Steve had an amazing career. He worked for DfT for 31 years having started as a messenger in Ministers’ offices back before Great Minster House was even built,' he wrote.
'The OBE he was awarded in 2014 for services to local highways, innovation and resilience was testament to his dedication, work ethic and natural talent to be innovative, build relationships and get things done. I will miss Steve massively and the department will be a much poorer place without him.'
Mr Berry was at the forefront of the major improvement in asset management in highways maintenance over the last 10 years and was hugely respected within the sector for his diligence and personal commitment as well as his leadership and talent.
He was often seen on the conference circuit and made a real effort to speak to the sector on the frontline to discover the issues highway officers faced.
Former transport minister Jesse Norman, who enjoyed a close working relationship with Mr Berry, described him as the 'OBE-Wan Kenobi' of local roads.
Steve Spender, chief executive of the Institute of Highway Engineers, said: 'Steve has been a major influence across the industry for a great number of years, as well as supporting the cause of highway maintenance. He has been a great supporter and friend to the IHE for a long time and his knowledge, experience and support will be missed by us all.
'This is terribly sad news for his colleagues, the industry, and the tax paying public who he has served with such enthusiasm whilst achieving such great results. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this incredibly sad time.'
If you have memories you wish to share or best wishes to pass on to Steve’s family, please visit the online condolence book at https://steveberry.muchloved.com/