To maintain the programme's timescale while awaiting confirmation of UK planning consent, National Highways has selected the MORE JV, comprising Webuild (42.5 per cent share), FCC Construcción, and BeMo Tunnelling, as its preferred contractor for the works.
The announcement follows a robust procurement process, a major part of which required shortlisted tenderers to develop design solutions and demonstrate these as compliant with National Highways requirements.
MORE JV has enlisted a world-class design consortium with Atkins, Jacobs and Spanish designer Sener acting as the design joint venture.
The main works contract covers the construction of the proposed tunnel's civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and technology components, including the tunnel boring machine, along with the approach roadworks and structures and the environmental components of the five-year construction phase.
Derek Parody, National Highways' project director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: "The contract will only become live once the Secretary of State has concluded the planning process.
"The announcement of a preferred bidder in no way pre-empts any decision, and once that is finalised, and should the Development Consent Order be granted, having a contractor in place will put us in the strongest possible position to deliver this transformational scheme and deliver the benefits we know it can.
"The scheme will not only unlock congestion along this vital A303 route, but also conserve and enhance the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage Site, and the joint venture will bring world-class expertise to the construction of the tunnel and the roads.
"We are delighted to identify our contractors, they are internationally renowned and they will also be making best use of considerable UK skills by using a range of local, regional and national suppliers and contractors to help them deliver the scheme."
In a statement, the joint venture said: "For the companies that are part the MORE JV - Webuild, FCC Construcción, and BeMo Tunnelling - this project is a clear example of the development of sustainable, innovative infrastructures that not only provide traffic solutions but also improve people's quality of life.
"It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the experience and international technical capacity of the companies of the MORE joint venture."
The proposed upgrade of the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down includes:
- Eight miles (approximately 13km) of free-flowing, high-quality dual carriageway
- A tunnel at least two miles (3.3km) long underneath the World Heritage Site, closely following the existing A303 route, but a further 50m away from the Stonehenge monument, avoiding important archaeological sites, and avoiding intrusion on the view of the setting sun from the stones during the winter solstice
- A new bypass to the north of the village of Winterbourne Stoke
- Junctions with the A345 and A360 either side of the World Heritage Site.
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