Balfour Beatty wins M20 barrier installation contract
Balfour Beatty has won the contract to install a moveable concrete barrier on the M20 to alleviate road congestion expected after the UK officially leaves the EU at the end of the year.
The £21.8M Highways England contract is for enabling and installation of the barrier near to Dover.
The “movable barrier technology” will introduce concrete blocks to the northern side of the highway, which could then be used to create a contraflow system to counter congestion.
It is being introduced amid fears that border checks at Dover could lead to a backlog of traffic on the M20, after the UK ends its Brexit transition period at the end of the year.
The total cost of the barrier is £60M; £21.3M has been spent on procuring the quickchange movable barriers and barrier transfer machines and there are other material costs such as the purchase of the barrier’s concrete blocks.
The contract was awarded without any prior call for competition, due to “extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable for the contracting authority and in accordance with the strict conditions stated in the directive”, the OJEU contract notice states.
It adds: “Insofar as is strictly necessary where, for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation cannot be complied with.
“It is essential that Highways England has a solution in place in readiness for Brexit on 31 December 2020. Failure to have a solution in place by this date would result in serious disruption on the M20 and a significant economic impact to the UK.
“Due to the fixed deadline, it is not considered feasible within the timescales for Highways England to run an OJEU competition, complete mobilisation and deliver the required works to enable readiness for Brexit.”
Balfour Beatty will carry out:
- Works to deliver traffic management measures with temporary infrastructure (signs, CCTV, etc.) to prevent traffic disruption caused by disruption at the Dover ports;
- Works to deliver permanent infrastructure (signs, CCTV, etc.) and better integration with the existing Dover TAP A20 project.
- Detailed design
- Site/ground investigation works including traffic management
- Preparation of temporary works design
- Undertaking the works to enable to Moveable Barrier System to be stored and operated,
- Operations of the project for a planned duration of six months
The £60M barrier is an alternative to the controversial Operation Brock, which was trialled to cope with overcrowding in case of a no-deal Brexit in January 2019.
Brock involved using a disused airfield in Kent to house 6,000 lorries after a no-deal Brexit, to relieve congestion. The government confirmed the current plans would not involve using the abandoned airfield.
The new innovation would allow a contraflow system to come into operation within hours, in comparison to Operation Brock, which would have needed a month of overnight closures to work.
It will allow three lanes to continue running in both directions alongside a hard shoulder. The technology will also allow a 110km/h speed limit to continue, while Brock would have reduced that to 80km/h on two lanes.