FIVE firms are circling one of the biggest ever Early Contractor Involvement deals let by a local authority.
Alfred McAlpine, Costain, Balfour Beatty, Laing O'Rourke, and Skanska have all completed the prequalification phase for the £65 million Sadlers Farm junction improvements for Essex County Council.
Over the next two months the shortlisted companies are all due to submit documents.
A contract is expected to be awarded at the end of the year.
The contract will consist of two phases, with the first, the design and development stage, lasting around two years. Phase two, which will include the actual construction of the road, is expected to start on site in 2009. The scheme will involve building 6 km of dual carriageway road, slip roads and the remodelling of the Sadlers Farm junction in Benf leet, a notorious traffic black spot.
The new road will link the A13 London Road with the A130 Canvey Way, taking traffic away from the Sadlers Farm junction, and form part of the Thames Gateway Strategic Network Improvements.
Councillors held a meeting last Friday to discuss the development of the scheme.
One source said: 'There is a heck of a lot of work going on around that area and many of the names looking at Sadlers Farm will have been involved in prequalifying for the Highways Agency A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton, further north. There is also the £4 million Great Notley bypass scheme for Essex County Council, which is a much smaller job.' The A14 project is also an Early Contractor Involvement deal, worth up to £484 million. Since the prequalification stage was completed last September, several firms have been waiting for documents to land on their desk, but local objections and issues over the preferred route have stalled the project.
Old partnerships were revived to prequalify for the ECI deal several months ago. The teams ? Costain/Skanska, Balfour Beatty/Alfred McAlpine, Nuttall/ Carillion, Mowlem and Laing O'Rourke ? will find out later this year which has won the deal. Construction work is expected to start in 2008.