Transport Scotland was this week expected to officially invite bids for the construction of the new Forth Crossing, the single biggest transport infrastructure project in Scotland for a generation.
The construction contract is expected to be worth between £900M and £1.2bn, while the total scheme cost is estimated at £1.7bn to £2.3bn.
An invitation to tender was due to appear in the Official Journal of the European Union this week.
The crossing will replace capacity that is lost on the existing Forth Road Bridge, which faces traffic restrictions as a result of corrosion in its suspension cables.
NCE understands that a consortium including Morgan Est, Balfour Beatty and Vinci will be among the bidders.
“The need to protect and improve the capacity for cross-Forth travel is beyond doubt.”
Stewart Stevenson, Scottish transport minister
Tender documents will be issued to selected bidders by the end of 2009 and the contract is due to be awarded in spring 2011.
The bridge is due to open in 2016.
“The need to protect and improve the capacity for cross-Forth travel is beyond doubt and the Scottish Government is absolutely clear that sustainable economic growth must be promoted in these difficult financial times,” said Scottish transport minister Stewart Stevenson.
“The Forth Replacement Crossing (FRC) will be funded directly by the Scottish Government from existing capital budgets. Against the backdrop of the global economic downturn, we are driving forward the largest transport investment programme Scotland has ever seen with a number of vital projects, of which the FRC is the biggest.”
The contract includes detailed design and construction of the crossing and road connections.
The Scottish Government will seek planning approval through a Parliamentary Bill, expected to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament at the end of this year.