Construction of Rochdale's new bus and tram interchange - set to be the first in Europe with integrated hydropower generation - is due to start this month
Following a competitive tendering process via the North West Construction Hub (NWCH) framework, Kier Construction has been awarded the contract to construct the new interchange.
The appointment means construction can now start this month and is expected to be completed next year.
The new £11.5 million interchange is being funded by the Department for Transport, TfGM and Rochdale MBC. Final funding approval was granted by the Government in February this year. It was one of 45 schemes competing for funding across the country.
The new facility will be built on Smith Street, next to the River Roch and the town centre's new Metrolink stop, and, once operational, will become the first building of its kind in Europe to have integrated hydropower generation.
For passengers, the new interchange will be a modern, striking landmark for the town centre, replacing the existing bus station and providing significantly improved passenger services and facilities, including electronic passenger information displays at stands.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: "I'm delighted that we have reached this important milestone in the project and that people will shortly see work starting on the ground - a very real and tangible sign that their new interchange is on its way.
"It will not only be a very striking gateway to Rochdale and a vast improvement for both passengers and bus operators, it will also be a European first thanks to its innovative hydropower plant. So it's a fantastic project and I'm really looking forward to it opening next year."
Councillor Colin Lambert, Leader of Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Rochdale's transformation is well and truly underway. The Interchange is yet another top class development which will deliver facilities of the highest quality for residents and visitors alike.
"Its location, next door to the iconic Number One Riverside library and council offices building and opposite the Metrolink terminus, is ideal and it will make coming to Rochdale town centre easier than ever."
Colin Quigley, Kier Construction's Operations Director, said: "We're thrilled to have the opportunity to work on this ground-breaking and innovative project.
"It will be an iconic development which, when completed next year, will provide greatly improved services and facilities for passengers. We can't wait to get started."
The interchange has been developed in consultation with local bus operators, transport user groups and disability access groups. The building has been designed by experts from Aedas Architects Limited, Jacobs UK Ltd, Marston and Grundy, Davis Langdon LLP and Atkins.
Once complete, it will be a European first: a reduced carbon public transport hub running with hydropower, thanks to an innovative scheme to use the River Roch to generate electricity.
A hydroelectric turbine has already been installed next to the interchange site which converts energy from the river as it flows rapidly through a weir. The weight of the water turns the screw-shaped turbine, generating electricity.
The hydroelectric turbine produces up to 86,000kWh of electricity every year, which will help to reduce the interchange's carbon footprint by over a quarter.
The turbine is driven by an 'Archimedean screw', which was supplied by Spaans Babcock, a specialist contractor with a local base in Heywood. There is also a fish pass, funded by the Environment Agency, which helps fish to swim upstream past the turbine to migrate and spawn.
It has been funded by Transport for Greater Manchester, the European Union's INTERREG IVB Ticket to Kyoto project, the Northwest Development Agency, Rochdale Borough Council and the Environment Agency.