Five international groups and a local joint venture have joined the race to win a £100m road project in Northern Ireland.

The project involves upgrading and dualling a 14km stretch of A8 Transport Corridor from Hillhead Road to the Ballyrickard Road between Belfast and Larne and includes building 14 bridges on the route.

The groups, which will submit a tender for paperwork are Costain/Lagan/Ferrovial, Balfour Beatty/FP Mccann, Galliford/Siac, Roadbridge/John Sisk, Farrans/Graham and a local joint venture of Wills Brothers/Clarke.

The winning tender will be chosen by the Department of Regional Development and the contract will be awarded on a two-stage basis.

Work is expected to begin in early 2012 and finish in three years.