NEC4 contracts chosen for £3bn Antwerp ring road

NEC4 contracts chosen for £3bn Antwerp ring road

NEC4 contracts are being used to procure over half of a new €3.5 billion (£3 billion) ring road in Antwerp, Belgium. They will be among the largest NEC contracts let to date worldwide.

Lantis, a Flemish government company responsible for delivering mobility infrastructure in Antwerp, is building a 15km dual carriageway called Oosterweel Link to complete and improve the city’s frequently congested R1 ring road.

The project involves constructing a series of tunnels under the river Scheldt, the docks area and Albert Canal to the north of the city, as well as dropping a 4km mostly elevated section of the existing ring road into cuttings and cut-and-cover tunnels. The aim is to reduce congestion, traffic noise and air pollution and to improve the quality of life of neighbourhoods close to the ring road, delivering a total social benefit of over €10 billion.

All works on the right bank, including all tunnelling works apart from the river crossing, will be let using the NEC4 Engineering and Construction Contract (ECC) Option C (target contract with activity schedule).

Tender documents

Lantis contract manager Katrien Van Rompay says tender documents for the first NEC contract, which is for the complex multi-level Oosterweel junction at the northern portal of the new Scheldt tunnel, will be sent to shortlisted bidders in April. ‘Tender submission is scheduled for August and we plan to make the award before the end the year.’

The 2km long contract, which will mostly be in cutting below existing ground level, includes 6km of cycle paths.

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The second, much larger, contract is for over 4km of new double-deck tunnels under America Dock and the Albert Canal to link Oosterweel junction to the northern end of the ring road, as well as lowering 4 km of the existing ring road into cuttings and cut-and-cover tunnels. The work will include demolishing the R1 Merksem viaduct and bridges over the Albert Canal and N1 highway, construction of several service buildings, and extensive landscaping and planting over the tunnelled sections.

Van Rompay envisages sending out tender documents for the second contract by the end of the year, with tender submissions and award in the first quarter of 2021. Construction is expected to take 7 years to complete.

Largest NEC contracts

While the Oosterweel Link contract values are not yet known, they are likely to be among the largest NEC awards ever made. In the UK the largest contract award to date is considered to be High Speed Two’s £1.5 billion ECC Option C construction partner contract for Euston Station, which was let to Mace and Dragados in March last year.

The biggest outside the UK is the HK$12.08 billion (£1.2 billion) ECC Option B (priced contract with activity schedule) let last January by Hong Kong’s Civil Engineering Development Department for Tung Chung New Town Extension reclamation and advance works.

The previous largest NEC contract in mainland Europe was the €190 million (£162 million) ECC Option C for the new International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, which was completed in 2015.

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