A total of 39 companies expressed an interest in becoming involved following publication of the contract notice in June this year. A final eight, who submitted pre-qualification questionnaires indicating their financial and technical capabilities, have consolidated into two consortia and will be formally invited to bid for the work.
Vinci, Balfour Beatty, Bam Nuttal and Morgan Est have formed the Forthspan consortium, while the Forth Crossing Constructors group comprises Dragados, Hochtief, American Bridge International and Morrisons.
Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said: “The Forth Crossing Bill has just been introduced to Parliament and the issuing of the formal invitation to tender demonstrates that delivery of the Forth Replacement Crossing remains on schedule.
“The long-term future for the existing Forth Road Bridge remains uncertain and it is vital we act now to preserve cross-Forth travel and ensure sustainable economic growth for communities across Scotland continues in the future.
“The construction industry has already signalled its enthusiasm for this project and we look forward to receiving high quality bids from some of the biggest and most experienced construction companies in the world.
“We are determined this project should provide a value-for-money solution and we are confident it compares favourably with other similar structures across the world. It will be funded directly by the Scottish Government from existing capital budgets, ensuring best value for the taxpayer."
The companies comprising each of the consortia have an excellent track record in delivering high profile bridge projects across the globe. Forthspan’s experience includes delivering for the 2004 Athens Olympics the £655m Rion Antirion Bridge, a 2.8km cable stayed bridge linking the Pelopannese Islands to mainland Greece, and the £330m Second Severn Crossing completed in 1996 which carries the M4 over the River Severn between England and Wales.
Forth Crossing Constructors experience includes completing construction in 1999 of the £768m Oresund Bridge which forms part of the Oresund link connection between Denmark and Sweden, and are currently undertaking the replacement of the seismically vulnerable eastern span of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge, at a contract value of around £1bn.
Both consortia will enter into dialogue with Transport Scotland over the next year to discuss their proposals for the project. Participants will be invited to submit a final tender by late 2010, outlining firm proposals and price.
It is anticipated the award of the Forth Replacement Crossing contract will be made in spring 2011 and construction is expected to begin later that year. The contract, which is anticipated to be priced between £900m and £1.2bn in today’s prices, includes detailed design, construction of the main crossing and approaching roads.
This will include:
- a motorway standard two lane carriageway with hard shoulders, spanning approximately 2.7km in length, comprising a cable-stayed bridge with three “mono-towers”, two central spans of approximately 650 metres each and approach viaducts;
- trunk road connections north and south of the bridge, including approximately 5.5km of new or improved two or three-lane motorway standard carriageways with hard shoulders and two flyover junctions;
- an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) including gantry displays to inform drivers of new variable speed limits.
These will see Junction 1A on the M9 upgraded and ITS provided on the M9 Spur south to Newbridge, as well as ITS provided in Fife from Admiralty Junction to Halbeath.
The Forth Replacement Crossing scheme was announced to Parliament in December 2008 and will utilise the existing Forth Road Bridge to carry public transport, motor cycles less than 50cc, pedestrians and cyclists. This has resulted in an estimated saving of around £1.7bn on the original estimated cost of the scheme and provides a sustainable increase in capacity to meet future demand. The new crossing is expected to be open to traffic in 2016.
Transport Scotland have been holding a series of local public exhibitions at North Queensferry, South Queensferry, Kirkliston and at the Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh. These feature leaflets, maps, new artist impressions and a Virtual Reality Model (VRM) of the scheme, as well as information on the Parliamentary Bill and supporting environmental documentation.
The introduction of the hybrid Bill – the first of its type ever taken forward in Scotland - begins the first of three parliamentary stages running in parallel with the procurement process. It is anticipated Parliamentary scrutiny of the Bill will be completed by November 2010.