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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Stonehenge bid race continues despite High Court block

Highways England is ploughing head with its tender contests for the £1.7bn Stonehenge tunnel and A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down upgrade despite the scheme being declared unlawful by the High Court.

The agency said it would continue to appoint building contracts to ensure the procurement process ran to schedule – although it has paused plans for preparatory work by contractor Osborne and archaeological field work while the Department for Transport “considers its options”.

Three bids have now been submitted for the tunnel and main works contract and the preferred bidder is expected to be announced in early 2022.

Shortlisted Stonehenge consortia:

  • BMJV – Bouygues Travaux Publics and J Murphy & Sons

  • HDJV – Hochtief Infrastructure and Dragados

  • MORE JV – FCC Construcción Salini Impregilo and BeMo Tunnelling UK

Highways England is also pressing ahead with plans to procure a Delivery Assurance Partner to support in managing the delivery of the main works contract. It is anticipated that the £60m contract will be awarded late this year.

David Bullock, Highways England’s project manager for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said: “We have to wait while the Department for Transport considers its options, and in the meantime we are continuing with the process to appoint a contractor for the main works phase of the scheme.

“We have now paused our plans to carry out early, preparatory work, but the procurement process is very much live, to ensure we maintain programme timescales as best as possible.

“We still believe our project is the best solution to the ongoing issues along the A303 past Stonehenge.”

Archaeological fieldwork and preliminary works had been scheduled to start later this summer, while a temporary, three-month closure of the A360 to enable utilities work – earmarked to start in September – has also been postponed.

Bullock added: “In terms of our initial work, we plan to update local communities via a virtual public information event when we know a little more, and in the interim we are continuing to communicate our plans with all stakeholders and interested parties.”

Elsewhere along the A303, Highways England said Galliford Try would also be starting work in September to dual a further £170m single lane section between Sparkford and Ilchester.

The scheme, further west on the A303 in Somerset, will provide a high-quality three-mile dual carriageway link, including new and replacement slip roads, junctions and road bridges to replace existing junctions and direct access roads.

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