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Balfour beats Kier for Lower Thames Crossing approach roads

Computer generated image of some of the new roads to be built in Essex, if the Lower Thames Crossing goes ahead

Balfour Beatty will be responsible for the design and construction of more than 10 miles of new roads, connecting the M25 at Junction 29 and the A13 with the Lower Thames Crossing tunnel at Tilbury, Essex. The work includes 49 bridges and viaducts.

On other bidder was shortlisted for the job – a joint venture of Kier and French contractor Eiffage.

Balfour Beatty’s price of £1.2bn is less than the £1.3bn estimate that National Highways has in mind 18 months ago, despite double digit inflation over much of that period.

Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is a significant scheme – one that will stimulate local, regional and national economic growth, create employment opportunities and new, sustainable methods of construction for the future of our industry.

 “Our deep domain knowledge and long-standing history in complex road construction, acquired through many years of successful delivery on behalf of National Highways, makes us ideally positioned to deliver this project to the highest standard.”

There now starts an 18-month period of detailed design and pre-construction planning. If the project secures a development consent order from the government, construction could start in 2024, with completion in 2029 or 2030.

Total cost of the Lower Thames Crossing has been estimated at £9bn
Total cost of the Lower Thames Crossing has been estimated at £9bn

The overall £9bn Lower Thames Crossing project involves the construction of a twin bored tunnel under the River Thames to the east of Tilbury and Gravesend, plus 23km (14.3 miles) of new roads to link it to the M25 and A13 (to the north of the river) and the M2/A2 (to the south). At a length of 4.3km it will be the longest UK road tunnel and with a diameter of more than 16 metres, the widest tunnel in Europe.

 The shortlist for the £600m contract to build the new roads needed in Kent, south of the River Thames, is:

  • BFV JV (Bam Nuttall, Ferrovial Construction (UK) and Vinci Construction Grands Projets)
  • Costain
  • Kier Eiffage JV (Kier Highways and Eiffage Génie Civil)
  • Skanska Construction UK.

Three are shortlisted for the £2.3bn tunnels package:

  • BFV Joint Venture; Bam Nuttall, Ferrovial and Vinci, supported by Atkins, Tecnica y Proyectos (TYPSA) and Stantec
  • Bouygues Murphy Joint Venture (BMJV), supported by Mott McDonald and Ove Arup & Partners
  • Dragados-Hochtief Joint Venture (DH JV).

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