National Highways has selected Skanska as the preferred bidder for the £450M Kent Roads contract, part of the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) scheme. The contract entails building 6km of new road, constructing one of Europe’s largest green bridges, and establishing a new public park in Gravesham.
Skanska won the bid over competitors including Costain, Kier Eiffage JV, and BFV JV. The LTC project is National Highways’ flagship road initiative for Roads Investment Period 3 (RIS3). With a budget of £9bn, the project aims to create a 23km road connecting Kent and Essex, featuring the longest road tunnel in the UK. Its purpose is to alleviate congestion at the overburdened Dartford Crossing.
Kent Roads Contract Details, Part of the Lower Thames Crossing Scheme
Under the contract, Skanska will be responsible for the southern section of the route, connecting the A2/M2 to the tunnel approach. The scope includes constructing over 6km of new road and structures. This will help in building one of Europe’s widest green bridges and establishing a new public park. The project will also create 19km of new or improved pathways for pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians.
Skanska has also committed to supporting National Highways’ goal of recruiting 45% of its workforce from within a 32km radius. They will accomplish this by providing training and qualifications to local individuals. They are also aiming to spend £1 out of every £3 of the construction budget with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Various programs, including apprenticeships and recruitment initiatives, will ensure the project is accessible and inclusive.
This announcement follows the award of the £1.2bn Roads North of the Thames contract to Balfour Beatty in January. The third major LTC contract, covering tunnels and approaches, will be awarded later this year.
Although the LTC scheme has not yet received its development consent order, National Highways is moving forward with awarding contracts to allow ample time for collaboration and detailed design work. This approach aims to minimize the impact of construction on the local community and the environment. It also provides an opportunity to leverage innovative low-carbon technologies, materials, and develop a local supply chain.
Lower Thames Crossing Scheme to Contribute to the UK’s Net-Zero Target
National Highways has designated the LTC project as a carbon-neutral construction “pathfinder” project. This means that all procurement for the project will prioritize low-carbon construction methods and incentivize continuous carbon reduction. The goal is to establish a benchmark for carbon-neutral construction and contribute to the UK’s net-zero target by 2050.
To further enhance the Kent Roads contract’s environmental credentials, National Highways plans to procure green hydrogen for the construction of the Lower Thames Crossing. This initiative aims to make it the “UK’s greenest road ever.” National Highways has addressed concerns of “greenwashing” and is committed to implementing genuine sustainability practices.