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Sun March 07 2021

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Jacobs wins £162m management contract for Lower Thames Crossing

3 Feb Highways England has handed US consulting engineer Jacobs a £162.5m contract to oversee construction of the £7bn Lower Thames Crossing.

CGI of the northern tunnel entrance to the Lower Thames Crossing in Essex
CGI of the northern tunnel entrance to the Lower Thames Crossing in Essex

Jacobs will act as ‘integration partner, to promote collaboration between Highways England and the Lower Thames Crossing’s three main works contracts.

It will be in charge of programme management, stakeholder management and risk management. It will also support the construction, integrated system commissioning and handover to operations.

The Lower Thames Crossing to the east of London involves construction of 14.3 miles of new road , including twin 2.6-mile-long tunnels connecting Kent and Essex. At 16 metres wide, these tunnels will be some of the largest bored tunnels in the world.  They will also be the longest road tunnels in the UK.

Highways England invited tenders for the £2.3bn main works package to build the road tunnel and approaches in November.

Former Heathrow Airport development director Matt Palmer is now Highways England’s executive director for the project. He said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious road project this country has seen since the M25 was completed nearly 35 years ago.  The construction of the crossing will generate 22,000 jobs, and will connect the midlands to the Channel ports providing a boost to the UK economy as part of post Covid-19 recovery. This contract award is the first step in that journey.

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 “Jacobs will be join us as a partner, bringing world-wide best practise in large infrastructure programmes to supplement Highways England’s outstanding record in successful project delivery. Together our intention is to create a collaborative team with our three main contractors to deliver an exceptional project that the country can be proud of.” 

Jacobs vice president Donald Morrison said: “We are united around the Lower Thames Crossing’s vision to improve transport connections and boost regional economic growth opportunities, and look forward to driving strategic collaboration with Highways England and their key partners on this critical component in the UK’s future transport infrastructure.”

“Our collective knowledge and capability in successfully integrating major transportation solutions, coupled with our long partnership of working with Highways England position us to manage this uniquely challenging programme of work, achieving best value against the outcomes.”

Highways England plans to resubmit its application for a development consent order later this year. An application was originally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2020 but was withdrawn after it was told that it had not provided enough information. [See: Lower Thames Crossing planning application withdrawn 24/11/20]

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