Highways England starts market talks on £6bn tunnel projects

Highways England has started an engagement process to identify suppliers interested in working on its two major tunnel projects – the A303 Stonehenge project and the Lower Thames Crossing.

It plans to hold an event for interested parties for the two projects in March, although it stressed that each will be procured individually.

The £1.6bn A303 project will include a new twin-bore road tunnel under the Stonehenge World Heritage Site as well as a bypass for Winterbourne Stoke and the improvement of junctions with intersecting roads.

According to the pre information notice, it is currently anticipated that the project will primarily comprise a privately financed design, build, finance and maintain (DBFM) contract, and some associated enabling works.

The £4.4bn Lower Thames Crossing project comprises two bored tunnels beneath the Thames with interconnecting link roads to the M25, A13, and A2.

It is currently anticipated that the project will primarily comprise both a publicly financed design and build contract for the tunnel and a privately financed DBFM contract for the associated link roads and their associated enabling works.

Highways England said its first event will be aimed at interested parties with the financial capacity and experience of financing (DBFM elements only), and tunnelling specialists who have a proven capability of managing and delivering complex, heavy civil and roads/tunnelling works across multiple sites.

Works and services in relation to the two projects may include:

  • financing,
  • design consultancy,
  • construction,
  • maintenance,
  • early and enabling works,
  • logistics including road and river transportation of materials and disposal,
  • mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, controls, and automation (MEICA),
  • protection and mitigation works to third-party infrastructure,
  • provision of tunnel boring machines,
  • materials and equipment supply; and,
  • other specialist works/services related to roads/tunnels construction activities.

Highways England said it will continue archaeological surveys in preparation for the Stonehenge project.  Project director Derek Parody said: ‘The environmental, archaeological and geophysical surveys we have been carrying out since 2016, and our review of existing surveys, have added to our knowledge and understanding of this unique landscape and helped us develop the design of our preferred route.

‘Our continuing archaeological survey work, which we are carrying out with experts in the field, will ensure we gather vital information about the environment and archaeology to inform the project as it progresses.’


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