Sectors - Civil

Shortlisted Bidders for Contract Announced

Highways England has announced the three companies it has shortlisted for its largest single contract, the £2.3 billion package to build the longest road tunnel in the UK. The road tunnel will sit at the heart of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, the most ambitious roads project in a generation.

The three construction and engineering companies below have been invited to enter into a competitive dialogue with Highways England, which is the next stage of the contract tender process:

  • BFV JV: comprises BAM Nuttall Ltd, Ferrovial Construction (UK) Ltd, and VINCI Construction Grands Projects, supported by Atkins Ltd, Tecnica y Proyectos SA (TYPSA) and Stantec UK Ltd.
  • Bouygues Murphy Joint Venture (BMJV): comprises Bouygues Travaux Publics S.A.S and J Murphy & Sons Ltd, supported by Mott MacDonald Ltd and Ove Arup and Partners Ltd.
  • Dragados-Hochtief Joint Venture (DH JV): comprises Dragados S.A and HOCHTIEF Infrastructure Gmbh.

For over 65 years, the Dartford Crossing has been the only crossing between Kent and Essex, which is a critical link carrying vital food, goods and services between the manufacturing centres, ports and distribution hubs of the South East, Midlands and North of England. The road is designed to hold 135,000 vehicles a day, but it now often sees 180,000 using it on a daily basis. This has led to long delays, which businesses throughout the UK have said act as a barrier to trade and jobs alike.

The Lower Thames Crossing is set to improve journeys by almost doubling the road capacity across the River Thames, East of London with 14.3 miles of new road, including two 2.6 mile-long tunnels underneath the river.

The Tunnels and Approaches contract includes design and construction of twin road tunnels under the River Thames. At 16 metres wide, these tunnels will be some of the largest bored tunnels in the world.  They will also be the longest road tunnels in the UK. The scope also includes the portal buildings, approach roads and the tunnel systems.

Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing Executive Director, said: “Our roads connect us – we rely on them, and they are a critical part of our economic recovery and low-carbon future. The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious road project this country has seen since the M25 was completed 35 years ago.

“This contract shows our commitment to this project, which will support 22,000 jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.

“This contract is unparalleled in its ambition, and we need the right partner to match that ambition. We look forward to entering into competitive dialogue with the three shortlisted companies and hope the final bids match our aspirations.”

The successful bidders, along with their supply chain, will help Highways England achieve their ambition of making the Crossing the most environmentally sustainable road project which has ever been delivered in the UK. They will also support delivery of landscaping which will look to increase the biodiversity value of the area by 15% of planting over 260 hectares of new woodland, converting 400 hectares of arable land into semi-natural habitats, and creating new ponds, waterways, ditches and hedgerows.

They will also be responsible for seven new green bridges that will connect habits and species either side of the new road.

The scheme will help to unlock a wealth of economic benefits by supporting over 22,000 jobs during construction and creating better connections to the region’s ports, distribution hubs, manufacturing centres and give improved connectivity to the North of England.

Highways England is building on its track record of successfully delivering major projects by bringing in partners and expertise from across the infrastructure industry. This contract is one of three main works contracts that will make up the scheme, with a £1.9 billion roads contract currently out for tender and the £162.5 million Integration Partner contract awarded to Jacobs earlier in the year.

Highways England plans to resubmit its application for a Development Consent Order later this year. An application was originally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2020 but was withdrawn in order to provide more information.

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