Balfour Beatty won the contract, last month, to construct the 1.7km Hindhead road tunnel in Hampshire, England.

It beat bids from Amec, Mowlem/Nishimatsu, Costain and a Joint Venture between Bouygues, Sir Robert McAlpine and Alfred McAlpine.

The project is designed to alleviate traffic pressure on the A3 road between London and Portsmouth at the Devil’s Punchbowl, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest in Hampshire’s chalk downland.

The US$154M contract involves a 1.7km twin-bored tunnel under Hindhead common, with cross passages every 100m, and 6.5km of dual carriageway. Each bore will contain two 3.6m wide traffic lanes, with a maintained headroom of 5m.

Consultant Mott MacDonald is responsible for all design aspects of the highway and tunnel.

Balfour Beatty will develop the designs, in keeping with the ECI (Early Contractor Involvement) initiative, and guide the the contract through the statutory process, including a public inquiry.

Construction is expected to start in 2005, with the road open to traffic by 2009.