Hindhead Tunnel – Reasons for Success

I had hoped to bring you a thoughtful piece about the reasons for success in the opening, on time and to budget of the A3 Tunnel at Hindhead.  My plan was to get the perspectives of three people responsible for aspects of the Project Management:

  1. Highways Agency Project Team Leader – Paul Arnold of The Highways Agency
  2. Project Manager’s Representative – Paul Luft of Atkins
  3. A Representative from Balfour Beatty, the Engineering Contractor

I was surprised that, having contacted the press offices of each organisation, that it was the two commercial organisations who failed to get back to me.  Call me naive, but I would have thought that even a tiny bit of free positive publicity would be a good thing to them.

Balfour Beatty press office, Atkins press office, if you’re listening…
– I’d still like to do a positive piece

Ho hum.  Onwards and upwards, and appreciate what you have…

Paul Arnold’s Perspective

Paul Arnold (in the high-vis jacket, left) is a Senior Project Manager with the UK Highways Agency.  Paul was the Highways Agency’s Project Team Leader in overall control of the Hindhead Tunnel project. He has nearly 37 years of experience in design and managing major roads projects; the last 22 years  spent in project management either with the former Department of Transport SE Regional Office or the Highways Agency since its creation in 1994.

I asked Paul what he thought were the principle reasons for the success of the project.  He identified three key factors in the success of the project.

  1. Early involvement of the main contractor who was fully engaged with the design process to ensure a buildable, affordable, value engineered design and a desire to keep it to programme.
    This also meant that the Contractor was accountable during public meetings and the Public Inquiry and could be quizzed on construction issues, giving them a real stake in the political aspects of the project.
  2. Excellent partnership one-team working using each party’s strengths to best use and stability in terms of staff movements.
    The construction’s principle players were Highways Agency, construction  engineers, Balfour Beatty, project management consultants, Atkins, and designers Mott MacDonald.
  3. Excellent stakeholder management, achieving buy-in of some organisations who would naturally be opposed to any new road building.  It is a testament to this that at the Public Inquiry the scheme was supported by all the main environmental bodies in an area of particularly high scientific and amenity value.  Good relationships were developed with the local community, including the use of regular newsletters.

The “so what?”

Sadly, I can do little more than re-iterate Paul’s conclusions, but it is nice to see that, on a major civil engineering project, it is communications of all sorts that comes front and centre, as it does in the business project that I am more familiar with.

Thank you, Paul, for taking the time, and good luck with your next project.


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