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Big names compete for £2bn roads spot

Eight major construction firms and consortia are set to compete for a maximum of four spots on the Highways Agency’s £2 billion major projects framework.

Laing O’Rourke, Balfour Beatty, a Bam Nuttall/Morgan Est joint venture, Carillion, Galliford Try and Sir Robert McAlpine have all been invited to tender for the framework, which will cover six of the seven schemes on the agency’s managed motorways programme.

They are joined on the shortlist by two unique joint ventures. Skanska and Amey have joined forces, while Costain has teamed up with consultants Serco. It is thought that these unusual partnerships were formed in order to cope with the IT demands of the managed motorways scheme.

A source at one second tier contractor said: “The Skanska/Amey joint venture is a new type of partnership, and Serco is the only tech-based consultant to put its head above the parapet.”

Tenders are due for submission in September. Following assessments, the Highways Agency will appoint a maximum of four to the framework in January 2010.

Although the full list of potential work has not been finalised, the framework will cover Hard Shoulder Running schemes on the M4 and M5 around Bristol, the M6 J5-8 around Birmingham – excluding part of phase two of the Birmingham Box – the M1 J32-35a east of Sheffield, the M62 J18-20 in Manchester and J25-30 from Bradford to Leeds, and the M60 J8-12 around Manchester.

There is also scope for the M60 lane gain scheme to be included but there are likely to be more jobs on offer to the eventual winners.

As well as traffic management and construction works, the job will also require the installation of gantries, motorway signs and CCTV.

The framework does not cover work on the seventh scheme on the managed motorways programme, on the M1 J10-13 between Luton and Milton Keynes. That job has already been contracted to a Costain/Carillion joint venture.