Long-term transport strategy for St Neots and Cambridgeshire unveiled

The transport strategy between Cambridge and St Neots. The transport strategy between Cambridge and St Neots.

Friday, April 18, 2014
8:00 AM

Forget dualling the A428 – this is an early indication of where a new road could be built as part of a long-term transport strategy for St Neots and Cambridgeshire.

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It is widely accepted the current road between St Neots and the roundabout at Caxton Gibbet needs to be improved from the current single-lane carriageway to deal with congestion.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly last year launched a campaign demanding action to upgrade the A428 – either by dualling the current stretch or by building a new road.

And it looks as if the joint strategic planning and transport member group at Cambridgeshire County Council favours the latter because part of its long-term strategy would see a road built from Caxton Gibbet, passing to the north of the current route and Eltisley before ­sweeping down to the east of St Neots to join the A1.

Huntingdonshire District Council leader Councillor Jason Ablewhite told The Hunts Post: “One of the solutions that has come up from the transport group is a suggestion to bypass the existing route.

“I’m having a meeting with the Mayor of Bedford as this could also help solve traffic issues at Black Cat – although you would probably need a flyover there – and a lot of the route would be built in Bedfordshire and South Cambridgeshire.”

Now the A14 is moving forward, an improved A428 is seen as the missing piece in the area’s strategic road network.

Its capacity will need to be increased to cope with additional traffic as ­developments are planned along the A428 corridor, including the Wintringham Park and the extension of Loves Farm, both on the edge of St Neots, and developments nearer to Cambridge, such as housing at Bourne, Cambourne and Papworth.

“The A428 around St Neots is the last bit that needs dualling and, done correctly, could provide a new route from Felixstowe right through to the Midlands where there are some of the country’s biggest growth areas,” Cllr Ablewhite said.

While he admits it would not be cheap, he knows there is an appetite for it among the county and district councils and believes that is replicated in London. But it would take serious money from London to back this up.

He said: “The community ­infrastructure levy [money paid to councils by ­developers of new homes] will only be sufficient for local infrastructure needs and will not be enough to pay for trunk roads that are necessary to support the growth the Government expects us to deliver.”

The frustration, he said, could be the length of time it takes to arrange the project and believes these should be planned and built before homes – a model of working that is prevalent in Europe and something Cllr Ablewhite is looking at as part of his work with the Local Government Association.

The building of a new A428 would allow the existing road to be utilised as part of the local road network, giving experts an opportunity to again look at solving the traffic problems in St Neots town centre.

However, the old problem will still exist – the River Great Ouse splitting the town in two. A second river crossing in town would be the ideal solution but it then comes back to cost – river crossings are among the most expensive road building projects around – and where to put it.

Cllr Ablewhite said there was local government land in central St Neots to the north of the Priory Centre but on the opposite bank is Riverside Park, a much-loved and well-used facility.

However, work continues to look for a way to reduce the pressure on St Neots’ central roads.

Support an upgrade of the A428 by signing the petition at www.surveymonkey.com/s/a428campaign.

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