An Australian engineering firm has teamed up with an international consultancy to bag the first major tender on what the New South Wales government claims is the largest infrastructure project in Australia.

In a joint statement on Thursday, New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell and Minister for Roads and Ports Duncan Gay announced a joint team from local engineering consultancy SMEC and UK consultants RPS have been appointed to prepare an environmental impact assessment for the WestConnex M4 Widening Stage, which will involve widening of the M4 between east of Parramatta between Church Street and Homebush Bay.

The widening is part of a broader M4 upgrade which, in turn, is part of a 33-kilometre project linking roads in Sydney’s Orbital Network involving the aforementioned widening, a duplication of the M5 East and new sections of motorway to provide connections between the two corridors.

O’Farrell said the awarding of the tender was a welcome sign of progress in what would be a ‘game-changing’ development for Western Sydney.

“WestConnex is the biggest infrastructure project underway anywhere in Australia and industry is keen to be involved” O’Farrell said, adding that the awarding of the contract followed approval of the WestConnex business case last month and the lodgement of the M4 Widening application.

The Premier said a construction industry briefing about all three stages of the WestConnex project will be held later this month, while Gay noted the government was seeking feedback on innovative ways to deliver the project via workshops and submissions.

For SEMC, which started in Australia and employs more than 5,000 staff around the world, the win builds on an impressive history of work on local major road projects which includes design work on Adelaide’s Northern Expressway, proof engineering and construction verification work as part of a joint venture on Melbourne’s EastLink and management of the design and construction of the Ipswich Motorway upgrade.

Set to commence in 2015, the WestConnex project will allow motorists to bypass up to 52 sets of traffic lights and will link Sydney’s west with the airport and Port Botany Precinct.

Construction of the first stage is set to begin in 2015, with the final stage set to open in 2023.

Around 10,000 direct and indirect construction jobs are expected to be generated throughout the life of the project.

The EIS for the M4 Widening will be exhibited for public comment in early 2014.