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Private Finance Initiative Race is on in drive for council roads success

CONTRACTORS have been short-listed to work up bids on two trailblazing Private Finance Initiative local authority road schemes, worth more than £110 million in total.

The race for Essex County Council's £80 million A130 improvement deal is hotting up, with only two contestants now left in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council has chosen three groups to pitch for its long-delayed North Bridge project.

Tarmac has come up trumps in the selection procedure and appears on both lists - on its own in Doncaster and as part of the Regional Roads group, with consulting engineer Thorburn Colquhoun, in Essex. The other group vying for the Essex job is called County Route, comprising Laing and consulting engineer Hyder. A third group, Kier/Nuttall, is now out of the contest.

Doncaster chose its bidders from an original list of nine, which comprised international companies and consortia. The other two groups which made it through are: Amec/Brown & Root/Hambros; and Autolink (Amey/Sir Robert McAlpine/Taylor Woodrow).

Essex County Council will now ask for best and final offers, which are due back by the end of January, and then select a preferred bidder.

Work on the contract, which includes 18.5 km of dual carriageway and 16 major bridges, is due to start in June, provided the government is willing stump up the necessary funds to allow the scheme to go ahead.

Doncaster's North Bridge deal, which first surfaced as a conventionally let contract in 1994, has now gone down the PFI route after the previous government knocked back the council's pleas for funding three times.

The centrepiece of the contract is a new North Bridge viaduct over the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal, the East Coast mainline railway, and the River Don. Work is expected to start in the winter of 1998/99.

An Amey/Sir Robert McAlpine joint venture has joined the race for the £100 million design and construct Contract 3 of the M66 Manchester Outer Ring Road scheme. The other runners are Kvaerner, Balfour Beatty and Alfred McAlpine/Amec.