FULL SCALE widening of the M25 will take place under a single £5bn design build finance operate (DBFO) contract, the Highways Agency announced last week.
'I expect the OJEU (call for expression of interest) to be published within the next two weeks, ' said Agency procurement director Steve Rowsell.
Detailed bids would be invited in the new year, he added.
Work involves widening 107km of the motorway under a £1.2bn capital programme.
The contract also involves £3bn to £4bn of maintenance work spread over a 30 year concession.
Rowsell said consultation with contractors had confirmed that they accepted the single contract option over proposals to split the job into two or three contracts (NCE 23 June).
He said consultation also showed that there was enough interest from contractors to generate strong competition.
His view was confi rmed by Vinci, one of the major contractors expected to form a consortium to bid for the project.
'If it had been smaller projects, it would have been diffi ult to fi d a good balance between the investment and maintenance, ' said Vinci Concessions deputy director Herve le Caignec.
Rowsell said the single contract option enabled contractors to exploit economies of scale and build on their experience as the project evolves. 'It also minimises contract interfaces, ' he said.
Widening work is expected to start in 2008 and run for seven years.
Rowsell said bidders would be expected to take into account the need to keep traffi c moving on the north east quadrant of the M25 during the 2012 Olympics.
'We will look for flexibility in the work programme at sensitive points of the M25, ' said Rowsell.