The vast A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down upgrade suffered a serious setback last July after the High Court ruled as unlawful transport secretary Grant Shapps’ decision to approve the Stonehenge Tunnel scheme against the recommendations of planning officials.
A fresh planning application is now awaiting redetermination by the transport secretary, following the quashing of the decision to grant the Development Consent Order.
To keep the project on track, Highways England today decided to name the European MORE joint venture as its preferred contractor for the works. The 3-way JV were selected ahead of two rival bidders: Bouygues Travaux Publics/J Murphy & Sons; and Hochtief Infrastructure/Dragados.
The FCC-lead JV has enlisted Atkins, Jacobs and Spanish designer Sener as the design joint venture.
The main works contract covers the construction of the proposed tunnel’s civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and technology components, including the tunnel boring machine, along with the approach roadworks and structures over the five-year construction phase.
Derek Parody, National Highways’ Project Director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: “The contract will only become live once the Secretary of State has concluded the planning process.
“The announcement of a preferred bidder in no way pre-empts any decision, and once that is finalised, and should the Development Consent Order be granted, having a contractor in place will put us in the strongest possible position to deliver this transformational scheme and deliver the benefits we know it can.”
He added: “We’re pleased we have now identified our contractors, they are internationally renowned and they will also be making best use of considerable UK skills by using a range of local, regional and national suppliers and contractors to help them deliver the scheme.”
To prepare for the construction phase, National Highways has been working closely with the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Business West, the Federation of Small Businesses, Salisbury and District Chamber of Commerce and Salisbury BID, and has also partnered nationally with the Supply Chain Sustainability School to provide free online training.
Proposed upgrade of the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down
• 8 miles of free-flowing, high-quality dual carriageway
• a tunnel at least 2 miles long underneath the World Heritage Site, closely following the existing A303 route, but a further 50 metres away from the Stonehenge monument, avoiding important archaeological sites, and avoiding intrusion on the view of the setting sun from the stones during the winter solstice
• a new bypass to the north of the village of Winterbourne Stoke
• junctions with the A345 and A360 either side of the World Heritage Site
The preliminary work will provide initial opportunities for local, regional and national companies within the first six months of construction starting.
The contracts for archaeology and enabling preliminary work were announced in 2020, as part of the total £1.7 billion capital cost of the scheme.
Wessex Archaeology, one of the largest contractors in the sector, was awarded the £35m Archaeological Mitigation Contract, Octavius Infrastructure (formerly Osborne) have been awarded the £8.5m Preliminary Works Contract through the Collaborative Delivery Framework.
National Highways, the company responsible for England’s motorways and major A roads, is also finalising the process to award a Delivery Assurance Partner Contract, up to the value of £60m, in due course.