With £260 million at stake, the framework is designed to support the delivery of the Road Investment Strategy 2 or RIS2, the government's vision as to what the strategic road network will look like. Atkins, Aecom, Jacobs, Arup and a Capita Pell Frischmann joint venture are the five consultants who have been designated to act as technical consultants over the five year life span of RIS2 from 2020-2025.
RIS2 will see Highways England invest at least £14.7bn in an extensive upgrade of the UK's road network including a new Thames crossing. The Lower Thames Crossing will add 90% additional capacity. RIS2 also gives the nod to the controversial Stonehenge Tunnel.
The role of the newly appointed consultants will be to recommend the best route options and then protect the technical interests of Highways England through the development and delivery phases of each scheme. Balfour Beatty, Costain and a Bam Nuttall / Morgan Sindall joint venture were recently announced as the winners of Highways England 10 year smart motorways project with WSP and Jacobs announced as designers.
A spokesperson from Highways England said the framework was designed to provide the specialist services necessary to deliver the investment in the strategic road network to ensure safer, smoother and more reliable journeys for England's four million road users.
The framework consists of six lots divided by value and region, covering the entirety of England.
Lots 1 to 3 fall into Band A, schemes with a budget of £100m or less across the South West & Midlands, South East & East and North East & North West. The estimated value for each of the three lots is £12.5m.
Lots 4 to 6 are in Band B, projects worth more than £100m, covering the same three regions.
Lot 1 was awarded to Capita Pell Frischmann JV, and lot 3 to Atkins. Lots 4, 5 and 6 went to Jacobs, Ove Arup and Aecom respectively. Highways England did not award lot 2 for the South East & East region because all eligible suppliers had already been awarded another lot. Alternative arrangements are currently being considered but no further details are currently available.
Highways England is currently tendering for the commercial and project management services framework worth an estimated £420m and available in two lots for commercial services and project management services for a 72 months agreement.
There are currently 93 schemes making up the Regional Investment Programme, with the RDP framework expected to deliver at least £9bn of the programme across nearly 60 schemes. These nationwide projects will deliver a series of major infrastructure improvements across the strategic road network.
RIS2 claims to be high value for money with a benefit to cost ratio of £2 for every £1 spent. And while a High Court challenge is currently playing out as to its legality, DfT has stated that environmental assessments will be undertaken as part of the upcoming Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the Clean Air Strategy and the Clean Growth Strategy.
In addition, RIS2 analysis shows that the entire scheme will only account for 0.2% of all vehicle emissions as part of the government's 'build back greener' agenda.