CONTRACTORS bidding for the estimated 89 million Avonmouth Bridge strengthening and M5 widening project near Bristol have been told to prepare for a repricing exercise.
The firms, which have already spent about 14 weeks on the complex tender, will now have to put in extra work on the redesign of the bridge bearings.
Firms do not yet know the precise details of the repricing, but it is clear that the eleventh-hour changes will knock the project off schedule.
The scheme has already been carried over from this financial year to the next and sources say that it will now be delayed by at least six weeks and is unlikely to start on site until June or July.
One worried insider said: I hope these changes arent the thin end of the wedge and the Highways Agency doesnt call for yet another of its rebids.
Another complained: Why ask all firms to reprice the bearings? It would be quicker and cheaper to negotiate with, say, the lowest two bidders.
The runners for the contract are: Trafalgar House, Amec, Mowlem, Costain, Laing and Kier/Hochtief.
Three firms are left in the race for another project carried over from this financial year to the next the 70 million A12/M11 link road in east London.
Trafalgar House, Amec and Mowlem are the three hopefuls. Tarmac, Alfred McAlpine and Sir Robert McAlpine/Fitzpatrick have each been turned down.
Amey looks to be the low bidder on the 20 million second phase Stoke bypass contract in Staffordshire.
Nearest rivals Amec and Alfred McAlpine have not yet been officially dismissed from the contest, but insiders are holding out little hope for them.
The scheme, on the A50 and known as Blythe Bridge/ Queensway, is due to start in April and last around 30 months.