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16Aug91 UK: TRAFALGAR HOUSE AND ITALSTAT FORM JOINT VENTURE TO OPERATE BRITAIN'S FIRST PRIVATELY-OWNED MOTORWAY.

Trafalgar House has won the concession from the Department of Transport to build the £450 million Birmingham Northern Relief Road, Britain's first privately-owned motorway.It won the contract to design, build, own and operate the 43 km of tolled motorway in a 50/50 joint venture with Europe's biggest toll road operator, Italian firm Italstat.The joint venture, called Midland Expressway Limited, will operate the road for 53 years before transferring its ownership to the DTp.The BNRR will connect junctions 4 and 11 of the M6, bypassing the heavily congested section of the M6 running through Birmingham.A consortium led by merchant bank Manufacturers Hanover, came a close second in what Midland Expressway's chairman, John Fletcher, described as 'an exceptionally close competition'.The bid by the third shortlisted contractor, Tarmac, was rejected in June this year.Midland Expressway says it will set a toll of about £1.50 for cars and £3.00 for lorries. The toll will be a flat rate, irrespective of distance travelled.The company will begin consultation very shortly with the people affected by the route, which was originally proposed by the DTp and endorsed by a public inquiry in 1988. Midland Expressway's proposals closely follow the DTp's recommendations.Work will also begin soon on an environmental assessment of the route.Construction of the motorway itself is likely to start in 1994 following another public inquiry. The construction phase is anticipated to take three years so the motorway would be open to toll-paying traffic in 1997.The BNRR, which will be built to full motorway standards, will have a dual three-lane carriageway along its length, except for the section it shares with the M42, which will have dual five lanes.The BNRR has only four junctions to encourage free-flowing conditions.Motorists will pay as they leave the BRR at one of three toll locations. These are situated at Churchbridge, Shenstone and Langley Mill.Payment will be made in cash, by a credit card similar to a British Telecom Phonecard or by a completely automated system whereby motorists do not even have to stop their vehicles.Midland Expressway anticipates that 50,000 vehicles a day will use the BNRR and that it will start making a profit about 18 months after opening.