The Welsh Government has opened prequalification for contractors to design and construct a new £1Bn section of the M4 between Magor and Castleton, running south of the city of Newport.
The construction contract will be worth an estimated £700M-£800M and will see the winning firm construct the most expensive of the route options considered - the ‘Black Route’ option - a 23km three lane motorway between junctions 23 and 29 of the M4. Five firms will be selected for a shortlist for an early contractor involvement scheme, with work to start in 2018 on a four year construction programme.
The ‘Black Route’ will also include an M4/M48/B4245 connection and provision of cycling and walking friendly infrastructure.
The scheme will address traffic congestion and unreliable journey times on the existing M4 between Magor and Castleton, which will be reclassified once the new road is built.
A recent public consultation also sought views on two ‘reasonable alternatives’ – the ‘red route’ (a dual two lane road) and the ‘purple route’ (a motorway along an alternative alignment) both to the south of Newport . A ‘do minimum’ scenario was also considered.
Wales Transport Minister Edwina Hart said: “The M4 is a key east-west route providing the main gateway into South Wales and provides a facility for transporting goods, linking people to jobs and employment sites as well as serving the Wales tourism industry.
“Our plan will deliver clear benefits for businesses and commuters and complements our proposals for a Metro system for the Cardiff Capital Region.”
Confederation of British Industry's Wales director Emma Watkins welcomed plans for the new road. She said: “The M4 around Newport is simply not fit for the 21st Century. That stretch of motorway is Wales’ main economic artery, it is already congested and is predicted to get worse.”
However Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Economy Minister Eluned Parrott said: “Investing the Welsh Government's entire borrowing powers into one single road leaves no money left for other transport projects like the South Wales Metro, which can provide much greater economic benefit.”