BALFOUR BEATTY Civil Engineering was last month awarded the long-awaited £132M A3 Hindhead road scheme south-west of Guildford in Surrey.
Hindhead is a pinch-point on the main route between London and Portsmouth. Previous proposals have foundered on concerns about the Devil’s Punchbowl, a beauty spot and site of special scientific interest alongside the A3.
A 6.5km dual two-lane carriageway will be built between Boundless Lane near Thursley and Hammer Lane on the SurreyHampshire border, with a 1.9km tunnel under the Punchbowl.
This is only the second Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) design and build contract let by the Highways Agency. The first was the A303 Stonehenge Improvement contract, which was also scooped by Balfour Beatty in a joint venture earlier this year (GE January 2002).
Early involvement means the contractor can help in the design and assist with the statutory processes before publication of draft legal orders and an environmental statement.
Environmental impacts can be addressed at an early stage and cost-effective innovation can be built in before the scheme is fixed.
Consultant Mott MacDonald, which is also involved at Stonehenge, is responsible for all design aspects of the highways and twin bore tunnel, including geotechnical, civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, fire and safety systems engineering.
Assistance will be provided by Wessex Archaeology, landscape and ecology consultant RPS and statutory procedures adviser Persona Associates.
Draft orders are expected to be published late next summer. If required, a public inquiry would be held in 2004.
During the design period the Highways Agency and Balfour Beatty will continue to involve local, regional and national bodies. Work could start in 2005 and be completed by 2009.
Transport minister John Spellar said: ‘The A3 at Hindhead is an important scheme which will tackle congestion and safety issues and improve the environment on this busy road.
‘It will complete the missing link in the dual carriageway between Greater London and Portsmouth.’