NEC contracts have been used to deliver a new one-way gyratory road to improve pedestrian safety and traffic congestion in the busy coastal town of Fishguard, Wales. The complex £3 million project was let in two phases to local framework contractors Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd and GD Harries and Sons Ltd under separate NEC3 Engineering and Construction Contracts (ECC) Option B (priced contract with bill of quantities).
The first phase, let by Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) in January 2018, involved construction of a new 250 m long one-way link road between High Street and West Street in the historic town centre. Named Ffordd Yr Efail, the new road required demolition of an old school building and incorporates a dedicated bus interchange and landscaped areas. It also provides improved access to a key council development site, earmarked for retail and housing. The road was opened to traffic in July 2019.
The second phase, let by South Wales Trunk Road Agent on behalf of the Welsh government in September 2019, was for improving the adjacent sections of High Street and West Street, which form part of the busy A487 and A40 trunk road network. The work included constructing wider footpaths, resurfacing the carriageways and installing new signage for one-way operation. The overall gyratory project was completed on time and budget in November 2020.
Atkins, part of SNC-Lavalin Group, was appointed NEC project manager, site supervisor and lead designer for both contracts under an NEC3 Professional Services Contract (PSC). Faithful and Gould was engaged as commercial consultant.
Project manager Craig Kearney or Atkins says NEC was chosen for each phase to stimulate good management between the parties on each contract. ‘The NEC requirement for the parties to act, “in a spirit of mutual trust and co-operation,” promoted a collaborative approach, building upon existing working relationships developed on the existing local procurement frameworks.’
He says ECC Option B worked very effectively and efficiently in practice. ‘Following the NEC obligation to act, “as stated in this contract”, early warnings were given both by clients and the contractor to raise risk, and frequent risk reduction meetings were held to mitigate the risk and to ensure a proactive approach to the management of the projects was taken.’
Kearney says the parties also worked closely together to ensure that an up-to-date accepted programme was consistently in place during each contract, such that there were no surprises at the end. ‘This collaborative approach enabled the project teams to manage the NEC compensation event process effectively and all quotations were agreed in a fair and timely manner. It meant we could advise each client on the projected total of the prices and programme on a monthly basis. As a result, final payments were quickly agreed between the parties after completion of each contract.’
Lead designer Chris Davies of Atkins says the NEC-inspired collaborative approach extended to all dealings with the local community and other stakeholders. ‘The design and implementation of this complex and challenging scheme through a historic rural town, located within a conservation area, was achieved through key stakeholder engagement. This ensured a consensus in approach between all parties, facilitating collaborative design meetings, technical discussions and workshops with local groups to ensure community buy-in.’
Fortnightly drop-in centres were also provided during the construction phases, which created an excellent rapport and facilitated public engagement so that disruption was kept to a minimum. Davies says the project delivery team also worked closely with Welsh government to agree a series of departures from national highway design standards. ‘This enabled a design solution that provided significant active travel benefits, improved traffic flows and facilitated local regeneration while maintaining the character of the conservation area of Fishguard and providing a cost saving in excess of £2 million when compared to an equivalent compliant layout.’
Due to the scheme’s success and key lessons learned, the Welsh government aims to use a similar approach on future projects of this nature across the strategic highway network. The scheme was also shortlisted for the Transport Project of the Year Award in the 2021 British Construction Industry Awards and the Roy Edwards Award in the 2021 ICE Wales Cymru Awards.
Benefits of using NEC
- NEC obligation for the parties to act, ‘in a spirit of mutual trust and co-operation,’ promoted a collaborative approach and stimulated good management between the parties and stakeholders.
- NEC early warnings were given by both clients and the contractor to raise risk, with frequent risk reduction meetings held to mitigate the risk.
- NEC requirements for updating the programme and timely agreement of compensation events ensured final payments were quickly agreed after completion.