National Highways – the company responsible for England’s major A roads and motorways – has announced it has all the key contracts in place to deliver the £1.7 billion A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down scheme past Stonehenge.
The planning application for the transformational scheme is still pending redetermination by the Secretary of State for Transport, following the quashing of the decision to grant the Development Consent Order.
In the meantime, to ensure program timescales are maintained, National Highways has awarded its £60 million Delivery Assurance Partner contract to Costain and Mott MacDonald, who will provide technical and construction management expertise by helping mobilize the main works contractor, oversee construction, assist the discharge of consent requirements, and assure the design.
National Highways, following its preferred bidder announcement earlier this year, has also now signed a contract with MORE joint venture, comprising FCC Construcción, WeBuild and BeMo Tunnelling, to deliver the £1.25 billion tunnel and main construction work.
The contract signing follows a robust procurement process, a major part of which required shortlisted tenderers to develop their design solutions and demonstrate these as compliant with National Highways’ requirements.
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 and the environmental components of the five-year construction phase.
Derek Parody, National Highways’ project director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said, “We’re pleased to have brought in a team of expert contractors. The main works contract will only become live once the Secretary of State has concluded the planning process.
“The announcement in no way pre-empts any decision, and once that is finalized, and should the Development Consent Order be granted, having these contractors in place puts us in the strongest possible position to deliver this transformational scheme and deliver the benefits we know it can.
“The scheme will not only unlock congestion along this vital A303 route, but also conserve and enhance the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site,” added Parody.
In advance of the main construction work, preliminary work will provide initial opportunities for local, regional, and national companies within the first six months of construction starting.
The proposed upgrade of the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down includes: eight miles of free-flowing, high-quality dual carriageway; a tunnel at least two miles long underneath the World Heritage Site, closely following the existing A303 route, but a further 50m 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; and junctions with the A345 and A360 either side of the World Heritage Site.
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, were awarded the £35 million Archaeological Mitigation Contract, Octavius Infrastructure (formerly Osborne) have been awarded the £8.5 million Preliminary Works Contract through the Collaborative Delivery Framework.