Relative newcomer to UK contracting FCC has admitted that its decision to team up with Kier was vital to its Merseylink consortium’s success in becoming preferred bidder for the £600M Mersey Gateway bridge.
Spain’s FCC is financing construction of the new bridge for client Halton Borough Council as part of the consortium whose other member are Germany’s Bilfinger Berger and Australian investment bank Macquarie.
FCC will also lead the construction joint venture that will build the bridge. Its members include Kier and Korean giant Samsung.
FCC Construcción UK & Ireland managing director Rafael Foulquie told NCE this week that the involvement of Kier was crucial.
“The project team will strike the right balance between local people and some top professional managers from the international companies,” said Foulquie.
“For this our local partner Kier is key as it has a main office [Kier House in Liverpool] just 10 minutes from the bridge,” he said.
The construction joint venture is also being supported by Flint & Neill as lead designer, working with URS and Spanish consultants Eptisa and Fehcor.
“This fits well with our current strategy of partnering with smaller local firms in order to use local supply chains and expertise,” said Foulquie.
“Above all we are focused on quality and innovative engineering - and this project will hopefully be the right way to showcase what we can achieve with our 100 years of international construction experience.”
Foulquie said his firm would draw on a wealth of bridge building expertise gained over its 100 year history.
“Over the past 15 years FCC Construcción has built more than 1M.m2 of bridges, of every type and construction system there is today,” said Foulquie.
“Particular projects that we will be drawing on include our most recently completed bridge - the cable-stayed New Europe Bridge linking Romania and Bulgaria,” he added.
Formally known as the Vidin-Calafat Bridge, the 1.79km long structure was officially opened earlier this month and featured a similar mix of public and private funding to the Mersey Gateway.
The total cost of that project was €282M (£240M) and was funded via a combination of £90M of European Union funding, national financing and private investment in the form of grants and loans.
The four tower, cable-stayed structure is built in an area where the Danube River is approximately 1.3km wide. The bridge carries four road lanes, a single railway track and pedestrian and cycle paths.
Foulquie added that FCC also brings operational experience in free flow tolling, which will be used on the new bridge and which has not yet been used in the UK.
“We will certainly be using insight and expertise gained through our international concessions such as the M50 Highway in Dublin, the TransmontanaHighway in Portugal and the I-95 Miami Highway,” said Foulquie.
Foulquie also stressed that FCC is not completely new to the UK.
“We have been working in the UK for some time and we will bring both local and ‘local expat’ people that are well-experienced in construction and project finance in the UK,” he said.
The Mersey Gateway will be FCC’s second private finance initiative project in the UK. Last year it completed the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland.
In the UK, it also carried out the fit out for the London Olympics International Broadcast Centre.
Samsung, meanwhile, has built major bridges around the world, including the massive Incheon Bridge in its home country. With an 800m long central span it is listed as the world’s fifth longest cable-stayed bridge.
The firm was a late addition to the construction joint venture, joining the it as late as March this year (NCE 7 March). This was a key move, said Foulquie.
“Mersey Gateway is quite a unique bridge around the world and there are not that many companies capable of delivering such an infrastructure project,” he said.
“We would have never won the project had we not already demonstrated our experience within the consortium - in terms of design, finance, construction and operation. We are market leaders on every front.”
- The value of the construction phase of the project, including land, is estimated at £600M.
- The project will be over 70% funded by the private sector.
- Six-lane toll bridge over the River Mersey between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes.
- A 1km long cable-stayed bridge - 42m wide, with four spans and three piers a maximum of 125m.
- Includes toll system management and the renovation of 7km of the bridge’s approach roads.
- Crosses the river around 1.5km east of the Silver Jubilee Bridge.
- The bridge aims to significantly improve local transport infrastructure and traffic congestion, as it will be able to accommodate up to 80,000 vehicles a day.
- The concession has been awarded for a period of 30 years, including a three-and-a-half-year building period.
- Construction is tentatively set to start later this year with the new bridge scheduled to open to traffic in June 2017.
Special Mersey Gateway report: Kier addition secures FCC concession