Contractors officially sign off for £1.3bn A66 Northern Transpennine project

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Balfour Beatty, Costain, Keltbray and Kier have officially signed a £1.3 billion contract to upgrade the A66 known as the Northern Transpennine project.

The scheme will see the remaining 29km of single carriageway sections of the road doubled over and key junctions between the M6 ​​Junction 40 (Penrith) and the A1 at Scotch Corner improved.

National Highways previously announced that the four contractors would work together on the project, but they have now officially put pen to paper in an attempt to fix the UK’s most dangerous road.

The Development Consent Order (DCO) application for the project, designed by Amey and Arup, was accepted by the Planning Inspectorate in July.

National Highways A66 Northern Transpennine Project Manager Lee Hillyard said: “We are delighted to welcome Balfour Beatty, Costain, Keltbray and Kier and look forward to working with them on the largest generational investment in the highway network of the north.

“We have already worked with the four contractors and know the quality of their work. The signing of the contracts is an important step in the delivery of such a large project and it is an important step for the A66 North Transpennine project.

“I would also like to thank Amey Consulting and Arup who played a vital role in designing the plans that were submitted and accepted as part of our DCO application.”

The 80km section between the M6 ​​and A1 is a vital artery of east-west transport in the North, carrying a quarter of freight traffic, more than double the national average.

It is susceptible to traffic jams in the event of an accident due to a lack of diversion options and is also considered the most dangerous road in the country, with 50% more fatalities than any other road.

For these reasons, the upgrading of the road is classified as an infrastructure project of national importance and has been selected as the guiding project for the government’s Project Speed ​​program in 2020.

This meant that the construction time of the project would be halved and the opening of the road advanced five years to 2029.

The program is also one of 138 rail and road projects targeted for acceleration by the government under the recent Growth Plan.

This will see the planning process simplified for national highways in the governments bid to grow the UK economy with major infrastructure projects.

Phil Clifton, Managing Director of Balfour Beatty Highways, said: “Today marks an important milestone in the delivery of the A66 Northern Transpennine project. This vital infrastructure for the North will not only improve national connectivity, but provide faster and more reliable journeys for road users across the UK.

“Throughout, we will use our longstanding expertise in delivering essential road upgrades, while leaving a lasting positive legacy for local communities; work with local supply chain partners and create many job opportunities.

Highways England’s annual assessment by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) found that the projected cost of the project had increased by 28%. It was previously expected to cost £1billion.

ORR’s report concludes that “accelerating Project Speed ​​has increased the cost of the program”.

The government’s spending review in autumn 2020 confirmed additional funding in RIS2 for accelerated work on the A66.

Costain Motorways Director Simon Ellison said: “The A66 Northern Transpennine project will transform journeys, improve road safety and community connections, delivering significant economic and social value.

“In a unique ‘enterprise’ collaboration with our partners, we will use the full range of our expertise in complex program delivery, consulting and digital to help ensure the A66 is ready for a better future. We we are privileged to be able to support the delivery of this flagship project for the North of England.

Keltbray Highways Managing Director, Vip Gandhi, added: “Keltbray is delighted to be working under a ‘corporate’ model with Balfour Beatty, Costain and Kier with National Highways on the delivery of this important project.

“The A66 Northern Transpennine project is vital to the local and regional economy as it will improve the lives of many by providing better access to vital services, improving accessibility and reducing congestion.

“The A66 is a vital route for journeys across the North of England, and this upgrade is one of the largest and most important road investments in the region, which will significantly improve journeys and the safety of neighboring communities.”

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