Successful bidders will adapt hard shoulders of motorways to accommodate extra traffic during peak periods

The Highways Agency is seeking applicants to join a four-firm framework, Managed Motorway, to handle £2bn worth of motorway work.

The successful bidders will carry out so-called “hard shoulder running” on the UK’s network as well as other improvements to junctions and adjacent major trunk roads across England over four years.

“Hard shoulder running” means adapting the hard shoulders of the motorway to accommodate extra traffic during peak travel periods. It is seen as an alternative to more expensive road widening, the long-term success of which is also challenge.

Teams will work with design consultants for pre-construction consultancy and buildability or carry out detailed design prior to construction; construct the Highways Infrastructure; delivering, testing and commissioning infrastructure.

In detail, the teams will, among other things, construct gantries, remove bases / superstructures, reconstruct hard shoulders and modify existing drainage systems.

An industry source said being on the framework offered one of the largest slices of work for individual companies or consortia that he could remember.

An industry briefing day will take place on 5 June, which will offer more detail on the bidding process as well as the precise stretches of motorway that will require the work. In the 2008 /2009 business plan, published recently the Highways Agency said the M1, the M6 and M42 were all under consideration.

Industry body the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) welcomed the advert. Rosemary Beales, its national director, said: “Investment in the UK’s road network is vital if we are to combat congestion. Managed Motorways schemes will reduce congestion and provide a solid flow of work for the industry.

“We look forward to finding out more detail about the specific details of the Highways Agency’s proposals in due course.”