Shortlisted bidders for Britain’s longest road tunnel


06 Apr 2021

The Tunnels and Approaches contract includes design and construction of twin road tunnels under the River Thames.

Lower Thames Crossing tunnel approach

Today (07 April 2021) we’ve announced the three companies shortlisted to build the longest road tunnel in Britain that sits at the heart of the proposed Lower Thames Crossing.

The following construction and engineering companies will be invited to enter into competitive dialogue with Highways England, which is the next stage in the contract tender process:

  • BFV JV; comprising BAM Nuttall Ltd, Ferrovial Construction (UK) Ltd and VINCI Construction Grands Projets, supported by Atkins Ltd, Tecnica y Proyectos SA (TYPSA) and Stantec UK Limited
  • Bouygues Murphy Joint Venture (BMJV); comprising Bouygues Travaux Publics S.A.S. and J Murphy & Sons Ltd, supported by Mott McDonald Ltd and Ove Arup and Partners Ltd
  • Dragados-Hochtief Joint Venture (DH JV); comprising Dragados S.A. and HOCHTIEF Infrastructure Gmbh

For more than 65 years the Dartford Crossing has stood as the only crossing between Kent and Essex, a critical link carrying vital food, goods and services between the manufacturing centres, ports, and distribution hubs of the South East, Midlands and North of England. It is designed for 135,000 vehicles a day, but it now often sees 180,000 a day use it, leading to long delays which businesses across the country say act as a barrier to trade and jobs.  

The Lower Thames Crossing will improve journeys by almost doubling road capacity across the River Thames east of London, with 14.3 miles of new road featuring two 2.6-mile-long tunnels under the river Thames. 

The Tunnels and Approaches contract includes design and construction of twin road tunnels under the River Thames. At 16 metres wide, these tunnels will be some of the largest bored tunnels in the world.  They will also be the longest road tunnels in the UK. The scope also includes the portal buildings, approach roads and the tunnel systems.  

Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing Executive Director, said:

“Our roads connect us – we rely on them, and they are a critical part of our economic recovery and low-carbon future. The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious road project this country has seen since the M25 was completed 35 years ago. This contract shows our commitment to this project, which will support 22,000 jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.

“This contract is unparalleled in its ambition, and we need the right partner to match that ambition. We look forward to entering into competitive dialogue with the three shortlisted companies and hope the final bids match our aspirations.”

The successful bidders and their supply chain will help Highways England achieve their ambition of making the Lower Thames Crossing the most environmentally sustainable road project ever delivered in the UK. They will support delivery of landscaping that will increase the biodiversity value of the area by 15% by planting over 260 hectares of new woodland, converting 400 hectares of arable land into semi-natural habitats, and creating new ponds, waterways, ditches and hedgerows. They will also be responsible for seven new green bridges that connect habits and species either side of the new road.

"This contract is unparalleled in its ambition, and we need the right partner to match that ambition. We look forward to entering into competitive dialogue with the three shortlisted companies and hope the final bids match our aspirations."
Matt Palmer, Lower Thames Crossing Executive Director

The scheme will help to unlock a wealth of economic benefits by supporting over 10,000 jobs in the peak year of construction and creating better connections to the region’s ports, distribution hubs, manufacturing centres and give improved connectivity to the North of England.  

Highways England is building on its track record of successfully delivering major projects by bringing in partners and expertise from across the infrastructure industry. This contract is one of three main works contracts that will make up the scheme, with a £1.9 billion roads contract currently out for tender and the £162.5 million Integration Partner contract awarded to Jacobs earlier in the year.

Highways England plans to resubmit its application for a Development Consent Order later this year. An application was originally submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2020 but was withdrawn in order to provide more information.

For further information contact us at or by calling 0300 123 5000. You can also get the latest updates on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.