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Costain Skanska wins £600m A14 contract

3 Jun 15 Highways England has awarded the first contracts for its £1.5bn scheme to upgrade 25 miles of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Due to the size of the project, it has been broken down into development (detailed design and pre-construction) and delivery phases. Construction of the proposed scheme is split into four packages of work. The contracts have been awarded under Highways England’s collaborative delivery framework (CDF).

The detailed design contract has been awarded to Atkins CH2M joint venture at a total cost of £35.3m. The initial award is for the development phase at a value of £19.6m. Once the scheme is given the go ahead the joint venture will provide design support and site assurance services throughout the scheme to a value of £15.7m.

Costain Skanska Joint Venture has been awarded the first two construction packages. Package one covers A1 at Alconbury to the East Coast Mainline; package two goes east from the East Coast Mainline to Swavesey. The value of the pre-construction phase is £1m. Once the scheme is given the go ahead, the joint venture will deliver £598m of construction work.

There are two further construction packages still to be awarded. Package three, for widening the existing A14 from Swavesey to Milton, is being re-tendered after two of the three bidders failed to meet the quality standard that Highways England was looking for, despite having already made it onto the CDF panel. This contract, worth £290m, is expected to be awarded in the summer.

The fourth package is for the demolition of the existing viaduct over the East Coast Mainline at Huntingdon and associated works – this will be tendered under the CDF in 2019.

Main construction work is on course to start in late 2016, although this remains subject to final approval from the Planning Inspectorate and sign-off by the secretary of state for transport. If all goes to plan, the new bypass and widened A14 will open to traffic in 2020.

The biggest construction challenge for Costain Skanska, apart from the sheer size of the project, is likely to be a pair of multi-span viaducts over the River Great Ouse, together totalling 820 metres in length, and a new 38.5-metre single span bridge over the East Coast Main Line. (Viaduct pictured below, 15 years after construction.  © Highways Agency.)

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The overall A14 scheme involves a new bypass between Swavesey and Brampton, widening the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury, widening the existing A14 between Swavesey and Milton, improving the junctions at Bar Hill, Swavesey, Girton, Histon and Milton, Huntingdon Town Centre improvements, to include the demolition of the viaduct, and a new local access road.

Chris Taylor, director for complex infrastructure at Highways England, leading the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, said: “The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme is the first major award under the CDF and is to enable delivery of an up to £1.5bn investment of national importance.

“We have raised the standards we expect from our supply partners – we expect quality of performance and for them to work collaboratively to deliver the excellence that our customers and stakeholders expect of us. We continue to be committed to working closely with our framework suppliers to ensure our expectations are clear and well understood.”

Mr Taylor said that the quality failings of the bidders for package three related to their approach to whole life safety. He said that they had failed to address Highways England's concerns that the finished road would be easy to maintain safely and that the future safety of motorists, emergency services and maintenance contractors had been adequately taken into consideration.

Costain chief executive Andrew Wyllie said: “The A14 is a strategically vital transport corridor and we are delighted to have secured the development stage of this major improvement project. It reflects our reputation for delivering solutions to infrastructure needs in long-term, strategic partnerships with customers.”

Skanska operations director Glennan Blackmore added: “We are extremely proud to be part of the team that will deliver significant infrastructure improvement to the strategic roads network, the region and the UK economy.”

Highways England submitted its planning application to the Planning Inspectorate on 31st December 2014. The examination phase started on 14th May 2015 and will last for six months – this gives registered parties an opportunity to present their points of view to the independent inspector.  A report will then be compiled by the Planning Inspectorate and submitted to the secretary of state for a decision.

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