Highways England chooses NEC4 to deliver £7 billion of smart motorways projects

ITS (UK) Executive Member Highways England as announced it will use the NEC4 Alliance Contract (ALC) to procure £7bn worth of UK-wide smart motorways projects over the next decade and support its planned six-partner delivery alliance.

The government-backed agency will create a hybrid alliance with six partners to develop, design and construct England’s smart motorways network. Known as the Smart Motorways Programme Alliance, the project aims to increase lane capacity on England’s 7000km strategic road network, using roadside technology and converting hard shoulders to all-lane running. 

The alliance’s production management and designs roles are are valued at £350 million each, while the total budget for the on-site assembly ‘lot’ is up to £5.95 billion. Initial tenders were submitted in March 2019 and the winning bidders will be announced in early 2020.

While all NEC contracts are built on a foundation of collaboration, the Alliance Contract is considered the next step in achieving a true alliance arrangement. A key component of the contract is that the client and all partners are engaged under a single agreement, sharing equal risk and reward.

The ALC contract has already been chosen by other alliance users, including Yorkshire Water Services, which has already adopted it for creation of the Yorkshire Alliance. NEC contracts are also used for highways projects across the UK, including the A683 Bay Gateway in Morecambe and for upgrades by the Midlands Highway Alliance.

Peter Higgins, NEC4 board chair, said: “Our contracts have already been used to great success on transport projects across the UK, and we’re confident that our Alliance contract can provide the framework Highways England needs to deliver this ambitious scheme of works.

“The Smart Motorways Programme Alliance will be responsible for a vast amount of investment and jobs, and it is essential that all partners are committed to delivering best practice. Enabling all members and the client to have an equal voice and responsibility for the alliance’s performance will be a key factor in achieving a successful programme of work.”

A spokesperson for Highways England, said: “The majority of our contracts are based on NEC and, as a major user, the evolution of NEC3 to NEC4 made the transition straightforward – a model contract document that can be customised to reflect our needs. As such the Smart Motorways Programme Alliance will be based on the NEC4 Alliance Contract but with a bespoke work allocation process.”

For more information on the NEC Alliance Contract, please see here.

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