Exclusive: Heavyweight JV beats competition from Jacobs and Arup/Atkins for consultant job

thames estaury

A CH2M and Arcadis joint venture has won the lead consultancy role on the £5bn Lower Thames Crossing, Building has learned.

Industry sources have told Building that a JV comprising CH2M, Arcadis and Danish tunnelling specialist Cowi has been named preferred bidder by Highways England for the project’s £200m technical partner role.

The team saw off competition from a Mott MacDonald/Ramboll JV, an Arup/Atkins JV and Jacobs, who was bidding alone.

The technical partner will provide preliminary designs, manage the planning application and help Highways England procure one or more of the scheme’s main contractors.

CH2M’s latest win comes after the American consultant won a £350m deal to become the engineering delivery partner (EDP) for phase one of HS2, as first revealed by Building.

It won the EDP role in a joint venture with Atkins and Spanish engineering firm Sener.

The Lower Thames Crossing is a proposed tunnel, near the existing Dartford Crossing, which would run from the M2 in Kent, crossing the river east of Gravesend and Tilbury, and join the M25 between junctions 29 and 30 in Essex.

The technical partner contract was initially expected to be awarded in January but had been pushed back to coincide with the outcome of a public consultation on the project, which ended on 24 March.

Subject to a development consent order, Highways England is aiming to start construction by 2021 and has targeted completion in 2025.

CH2M and Arcadis were considered strong contenders for the role, as they have already been involved in the project on different roles.

Aecom – who considered bidding for the technical partner role according to a source close to the firm – was also considered a contender having worked on the project since 2013.

Arup and Atkins were also in contention having been appointed to similar schemes recently by Highways England. A joint venture between the two firms won a £17.5m design contract in January for a proposed road tunnel under Stonehenge, moving the A303 that runs alongside the heritage site.

According to a source close to the project, the same Arup/Atkins team which won the Stonehenge deal was also bidding for the technical partner role at Lower Thames.

A Highways England spokesperson said: “The procurement process to appoint a technical partner for the Lower Thames Crossing project is ongoing; therefore it would be inappropriate to comment at this time.”

The spokesperson added that details of the successful bidder will be published on the government’s Contracts Finder website once a technical partner is appointed.