Design-build contracts valued at $4.5 billion for the world's longest immersed tube tunnel, between Denmark and Germany, were signed in Copenhagen on May 30. Construction on the 18-kilometer Femernbelt tunnel is set to start in January 2018 and last eight and a half years.

"Our prime focus now is on obtaining German approval, which is a condition for getting construction underway," says Claus Baunkjær, chief executive officer of the Danish project developer Femern A/s. Environmental objections on the German side of the crossing are still under review.

With work valued at $3.8 billion, the biggest winners are members of the Femern Link Contractors joint venture, which secured three contracts. Led by Paris-based Vinci Grand Projets, the joint-venture members won two contracts covering the tunnel. Generally speaking, the same team also will design and build the portal structures, toll buildings, bridges and ramps.

Femern Link Contractors appointed Copenhagen-based COWI A/S as its lead design firm. The joint venture Fehmarn Belt Contractors will handle the fourth contract, which covers dredging and reclamation. The Danish Review Board for Public Procurement is considering some objections to the awards by failed bidders.