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Firm in line for Stonehenge tunnel partner role

Aecom is in line to win the coveted technical partner role for the Stonehenge road tunnel, Construction News understands.

The engineering consultancy is understood to be the preferred supplier for the eight-year role on the £1.4bn scheme on the A303 in Wiltshire, worth up to £50m.

It is understood Atkins and a joint venture of Mott MacDonald / Jacobs also bid for the contract.

The technical partner will support Highways England and selected construction firms in the delivery of the road project, which will include construction of a 2.9 km tunnel under the Stonehenge monument.

A bypass will also be built near the village of Winterbourne Stoke.

The job is part of a broader programme of nine projects designed to transform the A303 route into an expressway to reduce congestion in the South-west.

An Atkins / Arup joint venture was picked as design consultant to design the preferred option for the road. Ministers launched a public consultation on plans earlier this year.

Highways England aims to submit a development consent order in the summer of 2018, with construction predicted to start in April 2020.

The client body has begun engaging with contractors ahead of starting procurement for an ECI contractor later this year.

Plans out to consultation represent the latest version of a project that has been discussed by roads chiefs since the 1980s.

Council for British Archaeology director Mike Hayworth said earlier this year that many heritage organisations would still like to see a longer tunnel, warning it was “almost impossible” to avoid damaging the area if the development took place as currently planned.

Aecom and Mott MacDonald / Jacobs were contacted for comment.

An Atkins spokesman said: “We do not comment on our bidding activities.”

Highways England spokesman said: “This remains an open procurement exercise and it is wrong to speculate on something that could affect the outcome of the formal process.

“We will make an announcement of the winning bidder once procurement has been concluded.”

Timeline: Countdown to the tunnel 

1991 – 1993 Initial route identified 
1993 Public consultation
1994 – 1995 Further route identified 
1995 Planning conference
1999 Preferred route revealed 
2002 2.1km bored tunnel announced
2004 Public inquiry
2005 Review of options after substantial increase in estimated costs
2007 Withdrawn from roads programme
2013 A303 feasibility study announced as part of Autumn Statement
2014 Scheme included in the Roads Investment Strategy
2015-2016 Route identified 
12 January to 5 March 2017 Counsultation launched on route options 
TBC Summer 2017 Preferred/recommended option revealed by Highways England 
Late 2017 Consultation to launch on preferred/recommended option
TBC 2018 Planning application due to be submitted 
TBC 2020 Work on site expected to start 

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