Contractor to design and build roads north of river

Balfour Beatty has been awarded a £1.2 billion contract by National Highways for work on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing. 

Britain’s biggest contractor overcame competition from Kier Eiffage, a joint venture between Kier Highways and French firm Eiffage Genie Civil, to grab work on the £6.8bn crossing, which will become the UK’s longest road tunnel under the River Thames. 

lower thames crossing (2)

Construction is expected to begin in 2024

Both firms were named in September 2021 on the shortlist for the ‘roads north of the Thames’, a package of works requiring the design and delivery of more than 10 miles of new highways connecting the M25 at Junction 29 and the A13 with the planned tunnel at Tilbury, Essex. 

Balfour will also deliver 49 structures including bridges and major viaducts using modular construction techniques. 

The contractor plans to employ a workforce of around 2,000 and spend £500m with local businesses and supply chain partners. 

Leo Quinn, group chief executive of Balfour Beatty, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing is a significant scheme – one that will stimulate local, regional and national economic growth, create employment opportunities and new, sustainable methods of construction for the future of our industry.  

“Our deep domain knowledge and long-standing history in complex road construction, acquired through many years of successful delivery on behalf of National Highways, makes us ideally positioned to deliver this project to the highest standard.” 

>> Three shortlisted for mammoth Lower Thames Crossing tunnels work

The project, which could almost double road capacity across the Thames to the east of London, was originally scheduled to complete in 2027/28, but National Highways withdrew an application for a development consent order in 2020 in order to alter plans. 

A notice to proceed from the Department for Transport is expected in 2024, subject to a development consent order, with construction scheduled to begin shortly thereafter and the project expected to complete by the end of the decade. 

Four bidders, including Kier Eiffage, are also in the running for a separate £600m to build roads in Kent as part of the project.