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A14 contest was 'strong' insists client body

Highways England has insisted it is happy with the level of competition for the retendered third leg of the A14 upgrade scheme – despite only two teams bidding for the £292M deal.

Highways England has insisted it is happy with the level of competition for the retendered £294M third leg of the A14 upgrade scheme - even though there were only two bidders.

A joint venture between Balfour Beatty and Carillion won the contract to widen the road from Swavesey to Milton in Cambridgeshire.

The contract was due to be awarded in early June but Highways England decided to retender it after only only one of the original bidders met its expectations for the project.

Balfour Beatty and Carillion bid as one team, and Skanska/Costain was ruled out as it won the first two legs of the scheme.

That left a Bam Nuttall/Morgan Sindall joint venture as the only other contractor within the collaborative delivery framework group of firms eligible to bid.

Highways England director for complex infrastructure Chris Taylor confirmed that onlytwo bids were made for the retendered deal. But he added: “Did we have a strong competition for the work? Yes we did.” Taylor said: “Both bids passed the quality threshold - the dialogue between us and the unsuccessful bidders last time was positive and mature.

“Some said they re-read their bids on reflection and recognised weakness in what they had done.

“We have the best delivery team in place for the A14 project in terms of safety; quality of product and delivering on time and to budget; and how the parties will work together.”
A joint venture between Costain and Skanska won the first two legs of the A14 project, which have a combined construction value of £598M.

A £35M detailed design contract for the entire project was awarded to a joint venture of Atkins and CH2M.

Taylor said all the successful contractors would co-locate staff in a joint office in Bedford.

“We will all work out of the same office to put the project on the best possible footing,” he said.

A joint venture of Bam Nuttall and Morgan Sindall was left empty handed from the A14 bidding process, with the other four contractors on lot 3b of the collaborative delivery framework picking up work.

In July, three of the five lot 3b contractors secured smart motorways work in July totalling more than £1.4bn - when Bam Nuttall/Morgan Sindall missed out, along with Skanska.

Taylor said: “When bidders don’t win, that’s tough. I’ve spoken to the unsuccessful [A14] bidders and we will be sitting down with them to share with them where they were strong and where they were less strong. That’s part of bidding and part of being in this sector.”
The transport secretary has yet to make a decision on Highways England’s development consent order application for the A14 upgrade project, which could start on site in late 2016.
A fourth construction package - for the demolition of the viaduct over the East Coast Main Line at Huntingdon is scheduled to be awarded in 2019.

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