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Sheffield pioneers early contractor involvement

SHEFFIELD CITY Council is to pioneer the use of Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) on the £60M Sheffield Inner Relief Road.

Contractor Birse has this week been appointed to work with Sheffield's 100-strong inhouse design team on developing the project, which will not get on site until autumn 2004.

Sheffield will be the first local authority to try ECI, which has been developed by the Highways Agency as a way of cutting construction costs and speeding planning applications (NCE 23 January).

Birse will work with the council to agree risk allocation and develop an agreed target cost for construction before work starts.

'We have a large in-house design consultancy which we are very proud of, so we will be designing in-house, ' said Sheffield chief engineer Mike Latham.

'But we wanted the contractor with us for these 15 to 18 months to work on value management, co-ordination of work, mitigation of traffic disruption and to get an agreed maximum price.'

Construction is expected to cost around £22M, with land purchase costing a further £25M to £30M.

The contract will operate in two phases, with Birse carrying out development work on a fee basis under the NEC Professional Services Contract. It will then switch to an NEC Option C Target Cost contract when construction begins.

A get-out clause will allow Sheffield to cancel the contract at the end of phase one if an acceptable target cost cannot be agreed.

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