Balfour Beatty Awarded 43.9m A1 Improvement Scheme by The Highways Agency
Balfour Beatty has been awarded a £43.9 million contract by the Highways Agency to design and build the A1 Coal House to Metro Centre improvement scheme in Gateshead.
Works will commence on site in late summer and are due for completion in early 2016.
Balfour will build new parallel link roads between the Lobley Hill and Gateshead Quay (A184) junctions and increase lane capacity on the A1 main line from two to three lanes in each direction from the four-mile Metro Centre to Coal House junction.
Balfour said it would use its patented ‘King Sheet Piling System’ during widening works to reduce the pile area and driving depth to reduce the overall construction programme.
Traffic management plans will allow for daytime installation to reduce noise from works during the night.
The existing merge and diverge arrangements will be reconfigured with the widened A1 carriageway requiring replacing and/or repositioning of fencing, road restraint systems, drainage, traffic signs, road markings, street lighting and technology structures.
Landscaping and accommodation works on the trunk road and local road networks will retain the existing cutting and embankment slopes.
The hardening of the central reserve between Coal House and Lobley Hill will maximise the availability for two lanes of traffic in each direction throughout the duration of the contract, minimising disruption for road users.
Balfour Beatty said it would take a sustainable approach to the works including the use of excavated material as part of the reinforced earth structure and verge fill, with existing road pavement planing being reused as the sub-base within the footway construction.
Other excess materials will be taken off site and recycled on construction projects across the north east of England.
The project will employ more than 200 people at construction peak including three apprentices and two graduates and will be proactive in seeking opportunities for local small to medium enterprises throughout.
217,000 extra workers needed to meet COVID-19 recovery
As the construction industry’s recovery progresses, the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) Construction Skills Network (CSN) forecasts have led the organisation to believe the industry will reach 2019 levels of output in 2022.
The CSN says there will be an increase in the number of construction workers in “most English regions” by 2025, with demands forecasted at a 1.7% rise for the East Midlands, and a 1.4% rise for the West Midlands.
Scotland and Wales are also predicted to see a surge in demand for construction workers with a total increase of 1.4% and 0.7% respectively. The North East is the only region to see a slight decline in workforce demand at -0.1%.
Wood and interior fit-out trades among the most desirable during COVID-19
According to CSN’s forecast, the trades that are the most wanted are those of wood and interior fit-outs, with both requiring around 5,500 workers per year. Other in-demand trades include technical staff and other construction professionals, requiring 5,150 workers each year, construction managers at 3,600, and the electrical installation trade, which requires 3,400 staff per year.
There is also expected to be demand for 7,850 non-construction, office-based professionals and technical and IT support staff each year. Steve Radley, Policy Director at CITB, said: “It’s great to see construction coming back so strongly and creating lots of job opportunities.
“We need to adopt new approaches to meet these growing skills needs and deliver these quickly. We are working closely with the government and FE to build better bridges between FE and work and make apprenticeships more flexible. We are also making significant investments in supporting work experience that make it easier for employers to bring in new blood.
“We must also make sure that we invest in the skills that will drive change and meet new and growing needs such as Net Zero emissions and Building Safety. We will be announcing plans soon to tackle specific skills and occupations such as leadership and management, digital skills, and skills related to energy efficiency”, he said.