The Welsh Government has formally invited bids to build and finance the £500m final section of the A465 Heads of the Valleys dualling.
It is proposing to upgrade around 18km of the A465 trunk road between Hirwaun and Dowlais Top, under a design, construct, operate and maintain contract model. The scheme would start in late 2019 and end in 2022.
Under the Mutual Investment Model (MIM), private partners build and maintain public assets and in return, the Welsh Government will pay a fee to the private partner covering the cost of construction, maintenance and financing the project.
At the end of the contract the asset is transferred into public ownership.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: 'The Pre-Qualification (PQQ) Process, which is the process that enables us to establish a shortlist of bidders to invite to tender for A465 in accordance with the Public Procurement Regulations, began last week.
'We won’t begin the tender process with our chosen bidders until Welsh Ministers have had time to consider the findings of the recent Public Inquiry and decide whether to make the Orders or not. This is anticipated in November.'
Highways understands the project would be the first delivered as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) using the new hybrid MIM.
Should Welsh Ministers decide to make the Orders, a procurement process will begin using a competitive dialogue process to appoint a private sector partner to design, build, finance and operate.
The procurement would take approximately 12 months to complete with construction due to start in early 2020.
The Welsh Government suggests there are may be four or five interested consortia, which have been tracking the A465 for some time and is confident at least four of these bidders will provide PQQ submissions.
The interested bidders are a combination of large international contractors with significant PPP experience throughout the world, generally partnered with Welsh contractors with a detailed understanding of the local market and in particular the importance of a strong commitment to community benefits.
The section includes:
- 17.7 km of carriageway upgrade as well as 2.2km off-line new road construction, six grade-separated junctions (at Hirwaun, Croesbychan, Baverstock, A470, Prince Charles Hospital and Dowlais)
- 35 widened or newly constructed bridges
- 41 culverts
- 40 retaining walls.
The operation and maintenance part of the contract runs for 30 years and will comprise the new A465 trunk road between Dowlais and Hirwaun.
This is the final section of a 40 km improvement to the A465, spanning from Hirwaun in the west to Abergavenny in the East.
The Welsh Government has appointed engineering consultant Jacobs to develop the design, produce an environmental impact assessment and take the scheme through the statutory process.