Highways England has started inviting tenders for two road contracts for the proposed Lower Thames Crossing project.

The successful bidders will be working with Highways England on the £1.9bn ($2.6bn) project, which is said to be the most ambitious road project for a generation.

The companies will be responsible for constructing a 14.3-mile new road stretch, which will connect the UK’s longest road tunnel to the strategic road network.

Once completed, the project is expected to improve journeys across the River Thames east of London.

In addition to long-term economic benefits, the new route is expected to support more than 22,000 jobs during the construction phase.

Highways England is currently seeking partners for the Kent Roads and Roads North of the Thames contracts.

The Kent Roads contract is a two-stage design and build contract worth $826m (£600m). It will involve building a route from the A2/M2 corridor to 1km south of the southern tunnel entrance, with strategic utilities and environmental interfaces.

The contract will also involve building a 6km road stretch, a multi-level junction to connect the A2 to the Lower Thames Crossing, and two ‘Green Bridges’ at Thong Lane and Brewers Road.

The £1.3bn ($1.7bn) Roads North of the Thames contract is also a two-stage design and build contract. It will involve building a 1km road from north of the northern tunnel entrance to Junction 29 of the M25, and a 16km road stretch with more than 30 proposed new and upgraded structures, embankments, cuttings and retaining walls.

It will also involve building viaducts at Tilbury over Cole’s Reservoirs and at Mardyke across a flood plain, as well as new link roads to connect the route with the M25, A13 and A1089.

Lower Thames Crossing executive director Matt Palmer said: “These contracts show our commitment to this project, which will support 22,000 jobs during its construction and provide a huge economic boost to the UK economy when it opens for traffic.

“Our challenge is to build the new crossing in a way that not only supports the next generation of low carbon vehicles, but minimises our footprint and allows us to enhance the natural environment and leave a positive legacy for our neighbours and users.”

This week, Highways England awarded two contracts worth £285m ($393m) for upgrading concrete road surfaces across England.

Over the next five years, the state-owned company will work with engineering and construction companies to repair or replace the concrete surfaces of motorways and major A-roads in the country.