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Contract 3

ROADS AND BRIDGES

THE THIRD and final contract on the Rugeley bypass involves linking the earlier sections up to the existing A51. Again the job was put out to the open market and again Birse - this time Birse CL - was successful in winning the work. So the firm was presumably a shoe-in for the job, given its work on Cont ract 2?

'I can assure you it was nothing of the sort, ' laughs Birse CL business development director Eunan Higgins. In fact the tender was a closely fought bout, with Staffordshire County Council finding it hard to put a cigarette paper between the Birse bid and its nearest rival.

'The job was again on a 80-20 quality price submission. We shortlisted six firms, of which two got top quality marks after interviews. It was very close between the two when the split was made on price, ' says Mr Barker.

Work has just started on Cont ract 3. Over the next 15 months Birse will be responsible for building the 2.2 km-long carriageway as well as the three structures on the route. The two bridges over the River Trent are similar in construction, both spanning 40 m at acute angles.

The bridge decks are 16.3 m wide and feature four plate girders, varying in depth from 1.3 m to 2.3 m, acting compositely with a reinforced concrete top slab. The beams are built into the reinforced concrete abutments, which are themselves supported on a spread base founded on a thick layer of terrace gravel.

'The canal bridge is slightly different because we want it to be in keeping with its surroundings. It has 27 precast reinforced concrete beams with strongly arched soffits and cladded brickwork supported on reinforced concrete abutments with spread base footings, ' says Mr Smith.