Success for Balfour Beatty joint venture as Britain’s biggest road project opens over six months early
07 February 2020
Today, the A14 joint venture delivery team, comprised of Balfour Beatty, Costain and Skanska working on behalf of Highways England, announce that Britain’s biggest road project – the A14 – is set to open to drivers more than half a year early.
The £1.5 billion scheme is designed to improve journeys between the East of England and the Midlands. Works commenced in November 2016 and, with a previous completion date of Winter 2020, is now due to open six months early in Spring 2020.
To open the scheme early, the integrated delivery team focused on innovative and sustainable construction methods. With the use of digital asset management and SiteVision - an in-field visualisation software - the team planned and designed complex routes in a safe and efficient way. In line with their commitment to sustainability, the project has also reduced its environmental impact by planting over 900,000 trees, using local materials and recycling excess soil for use on nearby embankments.
Highways England Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan, said, “The A14 is a vital route used by 85,000 drivers every day and including more than 21,000 hauliers transporting essential goods around the country.
“Opening this scheme more than six months early and on budget shows what the UK construction industry can achieve working with Highways England on the Strategic Road Network. I would like to thank them for their focus on our joint success and for their one team approach.
“Also, I would like to thank road users, residents and stakeholders for their patience and support during our work. This road is not just a piece of national infrastructure - it brings benefits to the region and local towns and communities too.”
Julian Lamb, A14 Deputy Project Director for the integrated delivery team, said, “The early opening of the A14 is testament to the collaborative and innovative team working on the project. With a focus on delivering a safe and sustainable road network, our expertise and capabilities have allowed us to deliver this project safely and efficiently, ahead of schedule.”
This announcement follows the recent December opening of part of the 21-mile scheme – a new 12-mile bypass south of Huntingdon – a whole year early. Already, the bypass has been used to make more than five million journeys.
Image: The new Swavesey Junction with its landmark pedestrian and cycle bridge
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About the A14:
- Work on the project began in November 2016, and has employed around 13,000 people in total, with up to 2,500 working on site during the project’s peak who have been working hard to deliver an early opening for traffic on the new A14.
- The A14 has been at the cutting edge of using digitalisation and new technology to deliver more effective, safer and sustainable solutions.
- The project team has developed programming skills to create Smart Permit to Dig (SPtD), a web-based permit platform which manages utility asset information and helps operatives to carry out construction activities in a way that enhances safety and value.
- One of the biggest challenges on the project has been proactively managing more than 500km of new and existing underground services, which can generate up to 1000 permits to dig per month.
- The project efficiency team has calculated total savings of over £2.2m; that equates to more than £1m each year since its implementation, through process efficiencies alone.
- The A14 includes 70 structures, and the team had to consider how to plan and design around them. The team has been using SiteVision to provide real-time, in-field visualisation of the new routes and structures. The software can depict models with accuracy within a few centimetres. SiteVision also brings immediate value and efficiency by linking to precise utility location information. This brings greater accuracy and reduces time and cost that would be spent locating and protecting buried assets.
- Partners Costain, Skanska and Balfour Beatty have taken environmental commitments seriously, and has planted two trees for every one that had to be removed for the new road to be built, resulting in around 900,000 trees and shrubs being planted.
- Further environmental work has seen the team care for ten protected species, including creating new habitats, such as for water voles.
- The team has reduced the environmental impact of the project and improved sustainability by using local materials, with soil extracted from seven pits along the scheme used to form the embankments keeping the new road above the floodplain.
- To date the team has carefully moved ten million tonnes of earth, with trained excavator operators who understand the archaeological impact of the work they carried out. This has not slowed them down, with the total amount of earth moved equivalent to around four Great Pyramids of Giza.
- The A14 project has involved one of the biggest, most complex archaeological projects ever undertaken in the UK. Finds have included three Anglo Saxon villages, an abandoned medieval village, 100,000-year-old woolly mammoth tusks and a woolly rhino skull, a Roman supply depot and rare Roman coins from the third century. Around 250 archaeologists from MOLA Headland Infrastructure investigated 33 sites across 360 hectares.
Notes to editors:
- Balfour Beatty (balfourbeatty.com) is a leading international infrastructure group. With 26,000 employees, we provide innovative and efficient infrastructure that underpins our daily lives, supports communities and enables economic growth. We finance, develop, build and maintain complex infrastructure such as transportation, power and utility systems, social and commercial buildings.
- Our main geographies are the UK, US and Hong Kong. Over the last 110 years we have created iconic buildings and infrastructure all over the world including the London Olympics’ Aquatic Centre, Hong Kong’s first Zero Carbon building, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the US and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
- Balfour Beatty’s highways business designs, constructs and manages many of the UK’s major highways. The business also delivers complex Design Build Finance Operate and Early Contractor Involvement schemes.
- Through constant innovation and the use of cutting-edge technology, Balfour Beatty supports clients to deliver optimal highways experiences to the travelling public, better connecting communities and creating more reliable and safer journeys. From project conception through to completion, Balfour Beatty has a continued focus on future proofing its schemes. This includes creating smart motorways and preparing routes to welcome autonomous vehicles.
- Current projects include Balfour Beatty’s £292m construction contract to widen a critical and complex 10-mile stretch of the existing A14, as part of Highways England’s £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme. The team also has extensive experience of using the latest technology to tackle congestion and is working towards the completion of Manchester Smart Motorway scheme M62 junctions 18-20 and M60 junctions 8-10.
- Recently completed Highways schemes include the £70m dualling scheme to upgrade a 2.5 mile section of the A21 in Kent from single to dual carriageway. The project has delivered a safer and more streamlined route for the travelling public, also supporting the local economy in this area of Kent.