Two more heavyweight joint ventures have emerged to compete for the £1.2 billion contract to build the replacement Forth Bridge in Scotland.
Several continental contractors are understood to have clubbed together with local firms to meet yesterday’s deadline for pre-qualification questionnaires.
Pairings are understood to include German construction company Hochtief with British outfit Morrison Construction, as well as Laing O’Rourke with its Crossrail joint venture partner, French firm Bouygues.
Meanwhile Skanska, which had been expected to put together a bid, has ruled itself out of the running.
Last month Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bam Nuttall announced they would join forces as a consortium titled Forthspan to bid for the contract.
Other names rumoured to have been looking at the work include another German contractor, Bilfinger Berger, construction services giant Carillion and Spanish group Sacyr Vallehermoso – all of which had representatives present at an industry briefing in the spring.
Three teams will be invited to tender on 27 November.
An OJEU notice published in the last week of June said the scope of the 66-month principal contract would include design, construction and completion of the replacement crossing over the Firth of Forth, as well as defect rectification.
The new bridge will be cable stayed with three mono towers. The two main spans are around 650 m each.
In total the new bridge will span 2.7 km across the estuary, consisting of a two lane dual carriageway main crossing.
Up to 2.5 km of two lane dual carriageway and up to 3 km of three lane dual carriageway for new trunk road connections to the north and south of the bridge also needs constructing.
The winner of the contract will not be required to carry out ongoing cyclic maintenance, which will be assigned to a third party by Scottish ministers at a later date.
Forthspan chairman Bob Wilson said his team would “address the challenges of this project from a local Scottish base and look to the successful delivery of the new crossing for the people of Scotland”.
He insisted the project would require a very specialist team with an understanding of the local issues and the key stakeholders involved.
Finance arrangements for the £2.3bn structure have been surrounded by controversy.
The Scottish Government has demanded it wants to borrow on the back of future capital transport budgets, but this has been rejected by the UK Treasury, leaving a question mark over exactly where the money for the project will come from.
The Treasury had offered a series of financial packages, including access to under-spent budgets and efficiency savings, but that has in turn been rejected by Scottish Ministers.