The work is being shared around nine consultants, including a Mott MacDonald/Sweco joint venture, and has been divided into packages within each of the six main highways regions.
Highways England hopes the new approach will provide greater value for money and save costs on bidding on an individual project by project basis.
Packages have been assembled according to location, route type, value and complexity.
Contracts have not yet been formally awarded because the schemes are subject to a continuing value for money review and successful completion of statutory process.
If contracts are formally awarded the consultancy work could be worth over £173m.
The consultants have been selected from the Collaborative Delivery Framework panel of firms to carry out preliminary design work.
These projects are being brought forward to start before 2020 in the first Road Investment Strategy.
A Highways England spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering the Government’s £15bn of investment in England’s motorways and major A roads – this includes £11bn of capital funding committed between 2015 and 2020.
“To support this challenging programme of investment, we have allocated packages of work to consultancy suppliers on our Collaborative Delivery Framework to carry out the preliminary design and complete the statutory processes of 38 major road schemes within our current delivery plan.
“Contracts have yet to be awarded on a scheme-by-scheme basis, and will be subject to the projects continuing to demonstrate value for money.”