Eight firms are left in the running for four spots on a Midlands roads framework worth up to £300 million.
It is thought that Bam Nuttall, Balfour Beatty with subsidiary Birse, and a joint venture between Tarmac and Carillion have all been shortlisted for the Midlands Highway Alliance’s Medium Schemes Framework 1.
May Gurney, Ringway, Interserve and an Aggregate Industries/Geoffrey Osborne team are also understood to have received invitations to tender for the agreement, which covers individual roads schemes worth up to £12m.
The final shortlisted bidder, falsely rumoured to be Costain/Lafarge, is thought to be Jackson Civil Engineering.
It is understood that MHA received 63 expressions of interest in the framework, and that 21 of those contractors submitted prequalification questionnaires.
Tenders are now due for return by 8 January, with four contractors to be named as preferred bidders by March.
The contract will run for an initial three years, with a one-year extension subject to contractor performance.
Procurement officer for the framework Chris Waterfield said: “[The extension] will be based on the performance of all four contractors so if one is underperforming on year 3 that might jeopardise it for all of them.”
A source at one of the shortlisted contractors said it was unlikely that the amount of work let under the framework would reach the maximum value.
The source said: “The way I look at it, it depends on fiscal policy. We’re prudently expecting about £160m – about half of it – but we’re hoping it will be up to £240m.”
The first scheme is anticipated to start on site no later than the beginning of April. Typical schemes on the framework may involve highway improvements and highway infrastructure works (including bridges, subways, culverts and retaining walls) as well as town centre enhancements.
In addition, drainage improvements, canal works and other infrastructure works such as waste management facilities will be required.
Works will be undertaken for various members of the Midlands Highway Alliance, which is a partnership between multiple local authorities and the Highways Agency.