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A47 Guyhirn roundabout given green light for traffic

We are delighted to announce that the long-awaited upgrade to one of the East of England’s busiest sections, the A47 Guyhirn roundabout now open for public use.

The £17million scheme to enlarge the busy Guyhirn junction between March, Wisbech and Peterborough is now open for traffic (oft). This is a key junction for travel around Cambridgeshire and Norfolk and is used by over 20,000 vehicles a day. It has long been a congested area and subject to many accidents over the years. The new lane that has been added leading up to the Guyhirn junction will help reduce congestion and delays, increase the overall traffic capacity, and improve road safety for all road users.

The Guyhirn junction is first project in the East of England Regional Delivery Partnership (RDP) Framework to reach open for traffic (oft) by the Galliford Try, Sweco Delivery Integration Partnership (DIP). We spoke with Alasdair Sim, Technical Director for the Sweco Major Projects Planning Team, who has been managing the Delivery Integration Partner (DIP) programme since June 2021.

The A47 Guyhirn junction improvement has been a true Sweco multi-disciplinary project, combining efforts and specialisms across a number of our offices.

 

Like every project, there have been challenges along the way but the commitment, professionalism and can do attitude of those involved working collaboratively alongside our delivery partners (Galliford Try and National Highways) ensured that the project always progressed forward. Opening the junction improvement to traffic is a major milestone and all those involved should be proud of their participation.

 

As a project team, we look forward to closing out Stage 6 immanently and Stage 7 in the near future.

Chris Buchan Project Manager & Principal Engineer, Sweco Highways team

What exactly is the Regional Delivery Partnership (RDP) Programme?

Alasdair: The Guyhirn improvement is one of six schemes National Highways is completing along the 115-mile A47 route between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth as part of a £450 million investment to improve the flow of traffic and benefit road users. Sweco are working as designer with GallifordTry as our DIP Partner in the East of England to deliver these projects.

The A47 is part of the wider RDP/DIP programme that Sweco is involved in that encompasses a full range of multi-disciplinary services, involving our Infrastructure and Advisory & Planning colleagues at all levels across the Sweco UK business.

In addition to the work are teams are doing on the A47, we are working as with GallifordTry on the A303 Sparkford to Illchester Improvement Scheme, which is now under construction, and as designer on 4 schemes in the South and South East with our partner Graham Construction (two of which are under construction; the M25 J25 and the M2 J5), as well as two schemes in the Midlands with our DIP Partner, Osborne. Since 2019, the DIP Programme has been a massive undertaking and we have had somewhere between 150 and 200 Sweco staff working on the projects at any given time.

Tell us about your involvement in the Programme?

Alasdair: I came on board in June 2021 to take over the DIP Programme Lead role, and my job is client largely facing with responsibility to report to the DIP Programme Board. My focus is to work on creating the environment and support structures to enable our project managers and technical teams to deliver to their potential and to thrive. This is no easy task with challenging timeframes and budget constraints to overcome as well as some seriously complex engineering challenges to face up to.

What’s so special about this particular programme?

Alasdair: As design consultant, Sweco has 12 confirmed, and potentially two more DIP schemes in our order book. This is significantly more than our competition and confirms the trust and faith our contractor partners have in the experience, expertise and ‘can do’ attitude our teams consistently display on a day to day basis.

By way of example, on the A47 Programme, and in order to meet planned opening dates, it was necessary for the team to prepare for and submit 4 Development Consent Order (DCO) applications more or less in parallel. A DCO is a statutory process managed by the Planning Inspectorate culminating in a decision from the relevant Secretary of State to either approve or reject these schemes, which are categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP).

Whilst it is not unusual for National Highways to promote DCO applications for Highway improvements, it is unheard of for multiple applications along the same corridor to be promoted together. To deliver the volume of documents set out in a single application is tough, two or three would have been harder still; but for the team to pull together and participate fully in four DCOs at the same time is incredible and a first for the A47 and a great achievement for Sweco.

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