TAYLOR Woodrow is emerging as the front-runner in the race for a deal to construct the £30 million Ramsgate Harbour approach road.
Nothing official has been heard from the client, Kent County Council, but sources close to the project say that Taywood has sent in the lowest price for the job and held off challenges from Mowlem, Amec and Balfour Beatty, which were also short-listed.
It is understood that Taywood will be recommended as preferred contractor to the council's transport operations board when it meets on January 19.
If the board gives the nod, work on the scheme is expected to start towards the end of February.
The scheme, which includes an 800 m single-bore tunnel with a 200 m cut- and-cover section, will be let as a conventional deal and is one of the biggest local authority jobs not to be awarded on a design, build, finance and operate basis.
It is also the first large-scale contract to be financed through a new system called Capital Challenge, an extension of the City Challenge funding system by which local authorities bid for central funds to
finance urban regeneration projects.
But Capital Challenge stipulates a maximum borrowing limit and industry insiders fear that if bids for the Ramsgate job exceed cash-strapped Kent County Council's budget, the council will have problems in getting it off the ground.
The contract could also be let as a partnering deal, possibly in combination with a fixed-price lump-sum tender.