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O'Rourke bags M-way link

CONTRACTS - MIDLANDS

LAING O'Rourke has clinched a £90 million road widening project to upgrade a vital link between the M1 and Nottingham for the Highways Agency.

The firm saw off competition from Mowlem, Nuttall, Skanska and Carillion to secure the Early Contractor Involvement deal, which will see the busy A453 link road dualled along all sections from the motorway to the city.

The tender process, which started in May last year, finally ended last week when the Highways Agency sent out rejection letters.

Costain and a joint venture between Sir Robert McAlpine and Geoffrey Osborne failed to make it onto the original shortlist last summer.

The proposed scheme will involve widening the A453 to a dual carriageway between the M1 and the Crusader roundabout near the village of Barton in Fabis, just south of Nottingham.

Work will also involve widening the road to a four-lane single carriageway through Clifton from the Crusader roundabout to Farnborough road at the start of the A52 Nottingham Ring Road.

A project source said: 'This should be a fairly easy job to design and plan, a simple widening project on a very congested route. But because of the nature of ECI, there are no confirmed dates as to when construction will go ahead.' The road building part of the contract is valued at £60 million but will not take place until all the designs have been worked through.

Construction will take around 30 months to complete. The Highways Agency has previously said building could start as early as 2008 and the road could be open to traffic in 2011.

The project was included in the Government's Targeted Programme of Improvements in 2004 following a multimodal study in 2002. The study found that the route was becoming severely congested. It discovered the stretch from the M1 to the Nottingham Ring Road had become unsafe through poor maintenance.