Balfour Beatty wins £1.2bn Lower Thames Crossing contract

Balfour Beatty wins £1.2bn Lower Thames Crossing contract aimed at relieving heavy congestion on Dartford Crossing

  • Two 2.6-mile underpasses will be constructed beneath the River Thames
  • Balfour Beatty said it will construct more than 10 miles of new motorways 
  • The project is hoped to relieve congestion affecting the Dartford Crossing

Balfour Beatty has won a £1.2billion contract for work on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, a transport link intended to ease traffic bottlenecks in southern England.

Britain’s biggest construction firm said it would be responsible for erecting more than 10 miles of new motorways and dozens of new structures, including bridges and viaducts, as part of National Highways’ ‘Roads North of the Thames’ contract.

Two 2.6-mile underpasses will be constructed below the River Thames, making them Britain’s longest road tunnel – surpassing the Queensway Tunnel beneath the River Mersey – as well as the world’s third-widest bored tunnel.

New scheme: Balfour Beatty said it would be responsible for erecting more than 10 miles of new motorways and dozens of new structures as part of the Lower Thames Crossing project

The south side of the new road will be located near Gravesend in Kent and link to the A2 and M2, while the north side, situated near East Tilbury, will connect to the A13 in Thurrock and the M25 in Havering.

It is hoped the development will relieve significant congestion problems affecting the Dartford Crossing, one of Britain’s busiest and most economically important thoroughfares, infamous for its delays and traffic jams.

According to National Highways, the Lower Thames Crossing project will result in 13 million fewer vehicles using the Kent bridge and almost double road capacity across the river east of London.

The motorway operator also estimates that journey times will be 30 per cent quicker at Dartford, and 46 per cent better between Tilbury and Medway Innovation Park.

Work on the scheme is set to begin next year following 18 months of design and pre-construction planning, subject to receiving a Development Consent Order from the Department of Transport, and be completed either by 2030.

Approximately 2,000 people will be working directly on the project at its peak, with around 150 jobs designated for apprenticeships, graduate or trainee positions.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty’s chief executive, said the scheme would ‘stimulate local, regional and national economic growth, create employment opportunities and new, sustainable methods of construction for the future of our industry’.

He added: ‘Our deep domain knowledge and long-standing history in complex road construction, acquired through many years of successful delivery on behalf of National Highways, makes us ideally positioned to deliver this project to the highest standard.’

In addition to the Roads North development, Balfour Beatty currently has motorway maintenance contracts from East Sussex and Buckinghamshire county councils, and a £108million deal to build a dual carriageway linking the M67 with the A57.

Outside the UK, it is working on a scheme worth over $700million to rebuild and widen an 11-mile stretch of road outside Dallas, Texas, under a joint venture with engineering group Fleur Corporation.

Balfour Beatty shares were up 0.3 per cent to 361p on Monday morning, meaning their value has climbed by around 42 per cent during the past 12 months.