National Highways selects world class team to deliver A303 upgrade past Stonehenge

By Anita Jaynes on 27 May, 2022

National Highways has announced its Preferred Bidder for the £1.25 billion contract for the tunnel and main construction work for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down scheme past Stonehenge.

The planning application for the transformational scheme is still pending redetermination by the Secretary of State for Transport, following the quashing of the decision to grant the Development Consent Order.

In the meantime, and to ensure programme timescales are maintained, National Highways has selected the MORE joint venture, comprising FCC Construcción, WeBuild and BeMo Tunnelling, as its preferred contractor for the works.

The announcement follows a robust procurement process, a major part of which required shortlisted tenderers to develop their design solutions and demonstrate these as compliant with National Highways requirements.

MORE JV have enlisted a world class design consortium with Atkins, Jacobs and Spanish designer Sener acting as the design joint venture.

The Main Works Contract covers the construction of the proposed tunnel’s civil, structural, mechanical, electrical and technology components, including the tunnel boring machine, along with the approach roadworks and structures and the environmental components of the five-year construction phase. 

Derek Parody, National Highways’ Project Director for the A303 Stonehenge scheme, said, “The contract will only become live once the Secretary of State has concluded the planning process. 

“The announcement of a preferred bidder in no way pre-empts any decision, and once that is finalised, and should the Development Consent Order be granted, having a contractor in place will put us in the strongest possible position to deliver this transformational scheme and deliver the benefits we know it can. 

“The scheme will not only unlock congestion along this vital A303 route, but also conserve and enhance the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site, and the joint venture will bring world class expertise to the construction of the tunnel and the roads.

“We’re pleased we have now identified our contractors, they are internationally renowned and they will also be making best use of considerable UK skills by using a range of local, regional and national suppliers and contractors to help them deliver the scheme.” 

In a statement, the joint venture said, “For the companies that are part of the MORE JV – Webuild, FCC Construcción, and BeMo Tunnelling – this project is a clear example of the development of sustainable, innovative infrastructures that not only provide traffic solutions but also improve people’s quality of life.

“It is also an opportunity to demonstrate the experience and international technical capacity of the companies of the MORE joint venture.”

To prepare for the construction phase, National Highways has been working closely with the Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Business West, the Federation of Small Businesses, Salisbury and District Chamber of Commerce and Salisbury BID, and has also partnered nationally with the Supply Chain Sustainability School to provide free online training. 

This helps smaller companies to upskill and places them in a better position to tender for work on larger infrastructure projects, such as the A303 Stonehenge upgrade.

The preliminary work will provide initial opportunities for local, regional and national companies within the first six months of construction starting. 

The contracts for archaeology and enabling preliminary work were announced in 2020, as part of the total £1.7 billion capital cost of the scheme. Wessex Archaeology, one of the largest contractors in the sector, were awarded the £35 million Archaeological Mitigation Contract, Octavius Infrastructure (formerly Osborne) have been awarded the £8.5 million Preliminary Works Contract through the Collaborative Delivery Framework.

National Highways, the company responsible for England’s motorways and major A roads, is also finalising the process to award a Delivery Assurance Partner Contract, up to the value of £60 million, in due course.

The proposed upgrade of the A303 between Amesbury and Berwick Down includes: 

• 8 miles of free-flowing, high-quality dual carriageway

• a tunnel at least 2 miles long underneath the World Heritage Site, closely following the existing A303 route, but a further 50 metres away from the Stonehenge monument, avoiding important archaeological sites, and avoiding intrusion on the view of the setting sun from the stones during the winter solstice 

• a new bypass to the north of the village of Winterbourne Stoke 

• junctions with the A345 and A360 either side of the World Heritage Site

For more details and updates on the A303 Stonehenge scheme, people can log on to the scheme website. If you are a business interested in becoming part of the project’s supply chain register here.

Pictured above: An illustration of how the tunnel will be built under the World Heritage Site, further away from the Stonehenge monument