Two contracts are in play: a £600m contract for new roads in Kent and a £1.3bn contract for new roads on the north side of the crossing.
The two successful bidders will build a total of 14.3 miles of new roads that will connect the longest road tunnel in the UK to the strategic road network.
Construction of the Lower Thames Crossing itself – twin 2.6-mile-long road tunnels connecting Kent and Essex – is a £2.3bn package that was put out to tender in November 2020.
In February US consulting engineer Jacobs was given a £162.5m contract to oversee construction of the entire £7bn project.
The latest tender process is for two roads contracts:
– The £600m Kent roads contract is a two-stage design and build contract for the part of the route from the A2/M2 corridor to 1km south of the southern tunnel entrance, with strategic utilities and environmental interfaces. It comprises 6km of new road, including a multi-level junction to connect the A2 to the Lower Thames Crossing.
– The £1.3bn roads north of the Thames contract is also a two-stage design and build contract, delivering the route from 1km north of the northern tunnel entrance to Junction 29 of the M25. The chosen contractor will build 16km of new road and more than 30 new and/or upgraded structures, embankments, cuttings and retaining walls. New link roads are required to connect the route with the A13, the A1089 and junction 29 of the M25, including two viaducts at Tilbury over Tilbury Loop Railway and at across Orsett Fenn over the Mardyke flood plain.
However, all this still depends on Highways England getting planning permission to build the new crossing. It submitted an application for a development consent order to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2020 but had to withdraw it after being told that it lacked necessary details. [See: Lower Thames Crossing planning application withdrawn 24/11/20]
Highways England plans to resubmit its application for a development consent order later this year.
Highways England’s director for the Lower Thames Crossing, Matt Palmer, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious road project this country has seen since the M25 was completed 35 years ago. These contracts show our commitment to this project, which will support 22,000 jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.”