Highways England is calling up specialist drainage contractors to join its £4.5bn smart motorway programme alliance.
The roads agency aims to appoint two firms for each of its three delivery regions, in a move that would see Highways England staff more closely involved in the selection of key subcontractors on the programme.
Within the alliance set-up, tier 2 firms would work with Costain in the northern region, with BAM Nuttall/Morgan Sindall joint venture in the Midlands and Balfour Beatty in the southern area.
Highways England hopes the new arrangement will lead to greater certainty of out-turn costs after many of the projects to date have suffered significant cost overruns.
The scope of works for the partner civils subcontractors includes removal of existing drainage systems, barriers systems and any other associated site clearance or earthworks.
Firms would also be involved at an earlier stage in the design, development and pre-construction planning of the smart motorway programme.
Each project is expected to be worth around £10m, with the framework agreement running for five years.
Highways England said it was aiming to name successful firms before 29 April.
Prequal documents need to be returned by 15 February.
To register interest firms need to email Highways England along with valid in date Constructionline Certificate, Achilles or Common Assessment Standard Audit certification.