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Winning Forth bridge bid £260M cheaper than rival

The winning bidder for the Forth replacement crossing was £260M cheaper than its rival, it emerged this week.

The Forthspan consortium bid £1.05bn to build the bridge, while the preferred Forth Crossing Bridge Constructors (FCBC) consortium has said it will build it for £790M at today’s prices.

News about the difference between the two bids will fuel doubts about the viability of the winning bid (NCE 24 March).

FCBC comprises Dragados, Hochtief, American Bridge International and Morrison Construction. Its bid compares with an initial cost estimate of between £900M to £1.2bn (NCE 24 March).

Transport Scotland chose FCBC as preferred bidder after an 18-month competitive tender.

A source close to the losing consortium told NCE that it could “only presume that they [FCBC] have missed something” to get the price so low. Forthspan comprises Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall, Bam Nuttall and MT Hojgaard.

Bids had to conform with a conceptual design for a cable-stayed bridge, which was produced for Transport Scotland by Arup and Jacobs.

“The design was imposed, and all other factors are likely to be the same − unless there is a change in the allocation of risk, cheaper materials or smaller margins”

Source

“The design was imposed, and all other factors are likely to be the same − unless there is a change in the allocation of risk, cheaper materials or smaller margins,” said the source.

“We are interested in how they are going to make money − they came in below our cost price and they have left all that money on the table,” he said.

Transport Scotland has said that FCBC’s price excludes inflation but the contractor will take 10% of any future cost increase resulting from inflation.

None of the companies involved in the winning consortium would comment on what contributed to the lower price ahead of the contract signing, which is due later this month.

The new 2.7km bridge will have a 2.1km main cable-stayed section and two approach viaducts.

The total cost of the bridge and road approaches is now expected to cost between £1.47bn and £1.62bn. The project also includes the installation of an intelligent transport system on the new road network.

Transport Scotland has confirmed that the process of reimbursing the losing consortium will begin as soon as the contract is formally signed.

The losing bidder is entitled to recoup half of its bid costs up to a maximum of £5M.

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