Highways England is today inviting tenders for its largest ever contract, the £2bn package to build the longest road tunnel in Britain that sits at the heart of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, the most ambitious roads project for a generation.
The Lower Thames Crossing will improve journeys by almost doubling road capacity across the Thames east of London, with 22.9km (14.3 miles) of new road featuring two 4.3km long (2.6 mile), 16m diameter tunnels, bored mostly using two large diameter TBMs. Works on the mega project could start in around 18 months, and would provide a huge jobs boost to the UK infrastructure industry.
The Tunnels and Approaches contract includes design and construction of the twin road tunnels under the River Thames. At 16m diameter, they 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.
Keith Bowers, the Lower Thames Crossing’s Tunnels and Systems Director, added: “This contract is unparalleled in its ambition, and we need the right partner to match that ambition. From our bidders we’re looking for outstanding construction, health, safety and wellbeing performance. We have committed to targets that mean by 2040 nobody will be killed or seriously injured on our roads and motorways, and we need our contractors’ design and delivery to meet that target for our road users and workers.
“We are setting priorities in our contracts that will reward excellence during delivery by offering an enhanced share of cost savings for high performance in areas including health and safety, customer focus, delivery, environment, people and communities and economics.”
The Tunnels and Approaches contract is the first of the three main works contracts to be procured for the scheme, with the Roads North and the A2 M2 contracts expected to be announced early in 2021.
The Lower Thames Crossing is expected to create tens of thousands of new jobs during construction including: labourers, civil engineers, archaeologists, surveyors, caterers, cleaners.
The scheme’s planning application was submitted on Friday 23 October, and the Planning Inspectorate now has 28 days to review the application and decide whether to allow the application to proceed to examination. A decision is expected from the Secretary of State for Transport in 2022, with construction expected to start later that year.
The A303 Stonehenge (Amesbury to Berwick Down), another significant Highways England tunnelling scheme, is due to receive a decision on its Development Consent Order application by the Secretary of State for Transport on Friday (13 November).
- About the Tunnels and Approaches package
- A bespoke NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) form of contract will be used for this package
- The contract notice will be sent for publication in the European Journal 11th November with an anticipated publication date of C.13th
- Bidders will be asked to return a selection questionnaire before the end of the year. We expect three applicants to be shortlisted to move forward into the competitive dialogue stage, with the contract award anticipated in 2022.
- The tender process will be undertaken via Bravo (eSourcing platform) and Highways England ask that interest parties register via https://highways.bravosolution.co.uk. The details of the Bravo project to be used will be released in the tender notice.