Lower Thames Crossing team vows to learn from HS2 construction complaints

Posted on 09 April 2021

Project bosses working on the Lower Thames Crossing are in talks with their counterparts at HS2 Ltd to ensure they can be “the best neighbour possible”.

Lower Thames Crossing Roads North project director Andrew Thompson-Jones, told NCE that talks are ongoing with HS2 bosses to “learn lessons” in regards to construction-related disputes with local residents.

As previously revealed, more than 1,400 construction-related complaints were lodged with HS2 last year. Complaints related to HGV movements, road closures, environmental breaches and Covid-19 rule breaking.

Consequently, HS2 Ltd has created specific roles along the route to ensure better alignment between HS2 Ltd’s construction pledges and its contractors’ actions.

The creation of the new roles came following a Commons transport select committee meeting which heard that HS2 contractors were not working to environmental best practice, breaking promises made during the consultation process and causing “complete chaos” for local communities.

Thompson-Jones told NCE that he was “determined” to avoid similar construction-related disputes arising on the Lower Thames Crossing project when construction gets underway.

“It is very important for us that we are seen as being a good neighbour, that is absolutely paramount,” Thompson-Jones said.

“We have a lot of work where we have to temporarily use land, particular on the Roads North contract. Now it’s important for us to give that land back as soon as possible and to make sure we communicate properly throughout.”

He added: “We have looked at what HS2 has implemented and we are speaking to HS2 to see what lessons can be learned and what we can do.

“The main thing for us is to support our main work contractors, we don’t want to lead them but we want to act as a fully integrated team who are all equally aware of the responsibility to be a good neighbour – that’s the contractors, integration partner, us as Highways England and the whole supply chain.”

Last week, Highways England launched the contracts to design and build the roads either side of the 4km twin-bored tunnel between Kent and Essex. The two contracts have a combined value of £1.9bn.

When complete the Lower Thames Crossing will improve journeys by almost doubling road capacity across the Thames east of London, with 23km of new road featuring two 4km long tunnels. It will create better connections to the region’s ports, distribution hubs and manufacturing centres.

The £2bn tunnelling contract for the scheme was launched at NCE’s Future of Transport conference in November.

In February, Highways England awarded Jacobs a £162.5M integration partner contract for work on the Lower Thames Crossing.

Jacobs will act as a catalyst for collaboration between Highways England and the project’s three main works contracts. It will include programme management, stakeholder management and risk management to enable objectives for time, cost and quality to be met.

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