Highways England rolls out NEC4 for £7bn Thames tunnel

Highways England rolls out NEC4 for £7bn Thames tunnel
NEC Users’ Group platinum member Highways England has launched the first NEC4 contract for delivering the £7 billion Lower Thames Crossing. Following a further public consultation earlier this year, the UK government-owned company published notice of a £242 million NEC4 Professional Service Contract (PSC) in July.

The eight-year contract is for an integration partner to provide consultative engineering and construction services on what the company describes as ‘the most ambitious roads project in the UK for more than a generation’.

It involves building a new 23 km motorway between the M25 motorway in Essex and the M2 in Kent. It will cross the Thames estuary between Tilbury and Gravesend via twin 16.4 m wide, 4.2 km long bored toll tunnels – the UK’s longest and the world’s third widest. Around 50 new bridges and viaducts will also be built.

Highways England plans to let the construction as three separate main works contracts, with a total value of between £5.3 billion and £6.8 billion. It is envisaged these will all use the NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option C (target contract with activity schedule), with some minor amendments subject to further market engagement. 

Managing the interfaces between the three contracts will be a key role under the NEC4 PSC contract. The integration partner will also be required to provide a broad range of project and programme management services to support the project and contract leadership teams, and provide high quality data analysis and experience-based decision making.

Due for completion in 2027, the new road will nearly double the crossing capacity currently provided the existing Dartford Tunnel and Queen Elizabeth II Bridge.
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