Government agency says winner of £242m deal will not be able to be main contractor on £6.8bn scheme

Highways England has started the search for a project manager on the £6.8bn Lower Thames Crossing project.

The agency said it was launching a procurement process to find a firm to fill its £242m so-called ‘integration partner’ contract but said the winning firm would be precluded from being the main contractor on the job.

It said: "Tenderers must note that if they are the successful tenderer for the integration partner and are awarded the contract they will be exempt from bidding for the Lower Thames Crossing main works contracts at tier 1 level.

"If the successful integration partner tenderer wishes to bid for the main works contracts at either tier 2 or 3 level they must contact Highways England prior to or during the main works procurement."

According to the prior information notice, the integration partner will provide a broad range of project and programme management services to support the project.

The winning firm will also support the contract leadership teams through establishing and running the day-to-day management processes and provide the necessary systems requirements and interfaces.

>> Serious doubts cast over major government infrastructure schemes

>> Winner revealed for £200m Lower Thames Crossing role

>> New procurement plan for £6.8bn Lower Thames Crossing

A full contract notice for the role is expected to be published on 6 July, with Highways England set to hold an online tender briefing session three days later.

Interested firms need to register by noon on 7 July.

Last year Highways England said it was working closely with the government to ensure that the project kept to the required timescale, following the decision to stop the use of PFI. The scheme had been slated to be part-funded under a PF2 arrangement.

The 23km Lower Thames Crossing project will feature two bored tunnels beneath the River Thames with interconnecting link roads to the M25, A13, and A2. It will cross the river east of Tilbury in Essex and Gravesend in Kent, creating a link between the A2 and the M25.

The crossing will feature three lanes in each direction and, at 16m in diameter, will be one of the largest bored tunnels in the world.