Galliford Try, Carillion and Bam Construction have been named for three-year airports deal.
6pm WSP and UK architect bag Helsinki bridge competition
WSP and specialist bridge designer Knight Architects have won an open design competition for a 3km-long bridge in Helsinki.
The team was one of ten to be shortlisted for the Kruunusillat (Crown Bridges) design competition out of more than 50 entries when the competition was launched in 2011.
The symmetrical cable-stayed bridge has a distinctive central 135m-tall pylon in the shape of a slender diamond. The bridge, which is the longest in Finland, will be used by trams, cyclists and pedestrians.
5pm: The £5.5bn Thameslink project may not be finished by its revised completion target of 2018, a senior figure has conceded.
Department for Transport (DfT) permanent secretary Philip Rutnam told MPs on the Public Accounts Select Committee that hitting the target was not a certainty.
Completion of the second phase of the scheme to upgrade the line, which runs through central London, has already been put back from 2015 to 2018.
Asked whether this new target would be hit, Rutnam said: “It can’t be guaranteed. But if you do not set about making it happen, it won’t happen.”
DfT rail projects director Michael Hurn said that 2018 remained the aim. He added: “We are confident that with the right industry approach we can deliver it.”
Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said the biggest challenge would be getting from 20 to 24 trains per hour in time.
4pm: Laing O’Rourke is to top out its 225m-tall ‘Cheesegrater’ skyscraper in central London this afternoon.
London Mayor Boris Johnson is expected at the traditional ceremony to mark completion of the highest point of the £340M City landmark.
Designed by Richard Rogers for clients British Land and Oxford Properties, the wedge-shaped building, officially called The Leadenhall Building, has an 18,000 tonne steel exoskeleton held together by ‘megabolts’ more often used in offshore oil exploration and in bridges.
The cores, basements and services of the 52-storey skyscraper, which is due for completion next year, were all constructed off site.
12.30pm: The Coldest Journey expedition has abandoned its attempt to cross Antarctica in winter using Caterpillar tractors.
The team, originally led by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, has come to a severe crevasse field, leading it to change plans.
Having travelled more than 300km at an altitude of 2.8km, it decided on safety grounds to end attempts to traverse the field in darkness and to focus on scientific work for the rest of the winter.
Sir Ranulph, who had pulled out of the trip with frostbite, said: “Although we are disappointed not to be completing the crossing as intended, the team is now refocused on the valuable educational and additional scientific work we can carry out and the continued fundraising for our charity Seeing is Believing.”
11.30am: Costain has bagged work at Junction 21 of the M5.
The contractor is enlarging a roundabout at Weston-Super-Mare, which is used by the busy A370 and a supermarket distribution centre as well as the motorway.
Costain is adding a third lane to the roundabout and installing traffic-responsive signals.
The £4M project is being jointly financed by the Department of Transport and North Somerset Council.
10.30am: May Gurney has secured a £27M deal with Bristol Water.
The contractor will deliver network repair and maintenance work for the utility firm.
The 16-month contract will also include metering support services.
May Gurney is also working with Bristol Water on its New Lay Trunk Mains Framework, which runs until March 2015.
10am: Three contractors have been selected for the £500M Manchester Airports Group (MAG) capital delivery framework.
Galliford Try, Carillion and Bam Construction were named on the three-year deal, which could be extended for two further years.
The framework will cover all capital works at Manchester, London Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.
MAG chief operating officer Andrew Cowan said: “[The contractors are] experienced in the aviation sector and will get to use those skills across a wide array of assets including runways, terminals, car parks and our property portfolio.”
9.30am: Most small firms are finding it harder to win public sector construction work now than they did five years ago, according to research.
A report by the Federation of Master Builders found more than half of small and medium-sized contractors had seen their success rate fall since 2008.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Public sector construction contracts are worth more than £37bn per year – almost 40% of all construction output – so it is vital that SMEs are able to win their fair share of this work.
“The economic and environmental arguments for procuring with small local businesses are widely accepted, so now it’s a case of finding ways to increase this type of procurement.”