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Mersey Gateway market consultation exercise launched

The proposed Mersey Gateway bridge is taking the next step in the process of appointing a contractor for the project by launching a market consultation exercise.

The exercise, which was launched this week through an official OJEU Prior Information Notice, will explain key aspects of the Mersey Gateway project, which will be procured by Halton Borough Council as a PFI project, and invite firms that may be interested in bidding for the contract to comment. 

 A new six-lane toll bridge over the Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes will be constructed in the project, which will be a Design Build Finance and Operate contract. Both this and the existing Silver Jubilee Bridge will also be tolled as part of the project.

The consultation comes after NCE revealed that the project is likely to receive a direct government capital grant in place of PFI credits for a portion of the scheme as originally planned (NCE 27 January).

The consultation is launched with four aims: to advise the market of the council’s approach to the project; to obtain the private sector’s view on the approach to a number of key commercial issues; to allow consultees to raise any matters they consider important before procurement is formally launched and to demonstrate that the project is well developed.

As part of the consultation process, an industry day will be held for the potential bidders to meet the project team and discuss in detail aspects of the proposed procurement process.

Mersey Gateway project director Steve Nicholson said: “As we move towards kicking off the procurement process for the project in earnest, it’s important that we engage with potential bidders to ensure that there is a clear understanding of how the process is going to be carried out.

“It also gives the project team the opportunity to discuss developments with potential bidders which may help to improve our proposals.”

The consultation will run until Friday 4 March. Interested parties should consult the notice published in the OJEU and follow the instructions for participating in the consultation and for attending the industry day. The full procurement process for the project is expected to begin in spring once the funding package for the project is agreed with DfT.

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