Balfour Beatty among contractors chosen for 184m UK motorway upgrade
The Highways Agency has selected Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Costain and a BAM Nuttall/Morgan Sindall joint venture to deliver upgrades to a 17-mile stretch of the M60 and M62 to a ‘smart motorway’.
The contract is worth £184 million, and will see the delivery partners sharing knowledge and best practice through a collaboration agreement, which will reduce individual risk.
Balfour Beatty, which will serve as lead contractor, said the upgrade, for the UK Government’s Highways Agency under its National Major Projects framework, will increase capacity, reduce congestion and shorten journey times for motorists, and employ 1,000 construction workers at its height.
The M60 between junctions 8 and 12 will be upgraded to a controlled motorway with traffic flows managed by technology interventions responsive to the volume of traffic on the network. The M62 between junctions 18 and 20 will become a four-lane, all lane running motorway by adapting the hard shoulder for continuous use and using electronic signs to manage traffic flows.
Works will include installing and refurbishing gantries, new static and variable signs, lighting, concrete safety barriers, drainage and surfacing works. Balfour Beatty will employ a public liaison team throughout construction due to the proximity of the scheme to a large concentration of businesses and residents.
Balfour Beatty Executive Chairman, Steve Marshall said: “We have been working with the Highways Agency for twenty years and look forward to building on that successful relationship. This scheme will benefit the 180,000 road users that pass through this section of the motorway network every day. We are committed to lead this project in a collaborative way with our partners, employing local people and businesses in our supply chain.”
Andrew Wyllie, Chief Executive of Costain, said: “The upgrading of our road network infrastructure is essential to maintaining and improving connectivity amongst the various regions of the UK, and thus to enabling the nation’s economy to grow. We look forward to working in collaboration with the Highways Agency and with our partners to deliver this project, using the latest in new and innovative traffic management technology.”
Construction will begin in July 2014 with completion scheduled for Autumn 2017.
G7 launches global infrastructure investment for China’s BRI
The G7 Group has launched an infrastructure investment push aimed at countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The launch took place during the G7 summit in Cornwall. While no extra state funding for infrastructure schemes had been confirmed, the “Build Back Better World” (B3W) plan, part of the G7’s infrastructure investment, looked to attract private finance.
The summit’s communiqué described the plan as a “step change” in nations’ approach to infrastructure financing, while the White House said the B3W plan would be able to cover Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Indo-Pacific.
What is China’s Belt and Road Initiative? (BRI)
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China’s programme to build both physical and digital infrastructure to connect several countries from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
It was adopted in 2013 by the Chinese government as a way of expanding the nation’s global influence. China’s motives for the plan include state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, and the protection of its political and social stability system. China is also using the plan to ensure continued economic and social development.
Why is the G7 Group competing with China?
While the reason for countering China’s BRI plan has not specifically been stated, official documents have suggested that it could be due to transparency, good governance, and “values”. However, in the past, the US has criticised the BRI projects, saying that they lack these qualities. Other opposition groups in recipient countries have also criticised the plan.
“Until now, we haven't offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards, and our way of doing business … [B3W] won't just be an alternative to the BRI, but we believe will beat the BRI by offering a higher-quality choice”, a senior administration official said in a news briefing.
However, a G7 spokesperson for the UK argued that there was more to the investment push than competing with China. He said: “This project stands on its own merits and is in line with the G7’s priorities on ensuring the world builds back better and greener from the pandemic”.
.Whether or not the G7’s investment initiative will be able to match China’s BRI is unclear, but a 2018 report from ICBC Standard Bank shows that after the first five years of the programme, some $330bn of transport and $266bn of energy projects were announced, underway or complete.