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Birse is emerging as hot favourite for the A16/A17 road scheme in Lincolnshire with a price of £22-£24 million.One contender for the project condemned the price as 'ridiculous'.Another contestant said: 'If that figure is correct, Birse is welcome to the job.'It is understood that consulting engineer Mott MacDonald is nearing the end of its tender evaluation period and that bidders for the scheme should know the outcome next week.The Department of Transport says it aims to make an award on the project shortly. It gives the start date as early next year, adding the now-usual proviso 'subject to the availability of funds'.The road will run from the A16 south of Spalding to the A17 east of Sutterton. The 18 km stretch will be partly continuously reinforced concrete road base and the job includes enlarging a roundabout on the A17.Other contestants for the 30-month job are Budge, Boot, Mowlem, Wimpey and Alfred McAlpine.