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M2 widening contract let

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AN ANGLO-SWEDISH joint venture of Costain, Mowlem and Skanska has won the £124M contract to widen 17km of the M2 motorway and the A2 to Cobham in Kent.

The job is one of the largest road contracts awarded this year and one of the most complicated. The route runs parallel to the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link and in many places works overlap.

The two projects are never more than 500m apart. Both were included in a special hybrid Act of Parliament and have to be built within the same time frame to avoid doubling the disruption to local communities. Logistical integration, especially of the two major road junctions and a crossing of the Medway River, was crucial in the tender process.

Highways Agency project manager Colin Chadwick told NCE: 'We were also looking for a capacity for major innovation and the ability to partner, both with contracts alongside and the local authorities and communities.'

The design and build job will double the dual two-lane road to dual four- lane and includes a new 1km long, 20m wide Medway crossing. This will sit in the 60m gap between the existing 30m high structure and the new CTRL crossing and carry the southbound motorway.

'There are tight interfaces all along the route,' said Chadwick. 'There is an agreement to share site spaces and to co-ordinate things such as tower crane placings which could overlap.'

Work also overlaps at junction 2 of the M2 where the new CTRL railway must be placed in a cut and cover tunnel box before slip roads are built. In the Nashenden Valley, just to the east, CTRL access roads have already been constructed directly off the motorway and pass over the line of the widening.

Chadwick said that arrangements were already in place for the CTRL contractors to dump spoil from the North Downs Tunnel alongside the motorway to create advance works embankments.

The contract will also see some 40 bridges reconstructed across the widened motorway, and the complex road layout at junction 3 remodelled.

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