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First Olympic bid race begins

Four selected for critical £200 million deal to bury power lines across east London

RIVAL contractors are on tenterhooks over which will win the first major civil engineering package to be awarded for London's 2012 Olympic Games.

Four firms are in the running for the critical £200 million deal to bore tunnels for the power cables that currently cross the Olympic site in east London on pylons.

Amec, Costain, Morgan Sindall subsidiary Morgan Est and Murphy have been lined up by the London Development Agency and energy companies National Grid Transco and EDF to bid for the scheme.

Industry insiders said Japanese giant Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was on the original shortlist but pulled out.

The deal - which has an estimated construction value of £60 million - involves boring two 5.6 km-long cable tunnels between electricity substations in Hackney and West Ham. The pair of tunnels will vary between 2.5 and 6 m in diameter.

A senior source at one bidder said: 'This is an absolutely key contract.You can't go on with the main works until the power cables are in, so the LDA wants us to press on with it as quickly as possible.'

The LDA's contract notice for the scheme states: 'Completion of the works to time will be critical to the programme of works that will need to be carried out at the site subsequently in order to have the facility completed in time for the Olympics.'

The authority has already submitted planning applications to remove the pylons from the site and is set to announce the winner of the tunnelling deal by the end of this month.Work on the 30-month contract is due for completion in 2008.

Amec has also confirmed its interest in the £100 million Olympic programme manager role. International bidders including US giants Bechtel and KBR as well as construction managers Bovis Lend Lease and Mace are likely to join in the running.

Bovis Lend Lease was programme manager for the stadium building at the Atlanta games in 1996, and responsible for the Olympic village and aquatic centre at Sydney in 2000.

Demolition and remediation specialists are poised to bid for major packages at the 240 ha Olympic Park site.

The LDA has already advertised for consultants to advise on the huge clear-up operation needed, and prepare contingency plans for unforeseen circumstances thrown up by detailed site investigations such as pollution or unexploded bombs.

A source at one remediation contractor said: 'With the Olympics and the overall Thames Gateway regeneration, there is going to be so much work to do.They will have to be careful about how they feed it out to the market or the industry simply won't be able to deal with it.'

240 ha Olympic Park site.

The LDA has already advertised for consultants to advise on the huge clear-up operation needed and prepare contingency plans for unforeseen circumstances thrown up by detailed site investigations such as pollution or unexploded bombs.

A source at one remediation contractor said: 'With the Olympics and the overall Thames Gateway regeneration, there is going to be so much work.They will have to be careful about how they feed it to the industry.'

The LDA will look for a series of remediation firms. Industry sources said Heijmans Blackwell, Mowlem, Hochtief, Churngold, Amec Environmental, Bilfinger Berger, VHE, Birse and Belgian company Jan de Nul would be among the likely contenders for packages.