£714million - That’s what it could cost to widen road
THE cost of widening the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton to six lanes – including building a new southern bypass for Huntingdon – could be as much as £714million. And one proposal for the A14 could seriously affect Fenstanton, widening the busy road
THE cost of widening the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton to six lanes - including building a new southern bypass for Huntingdon - could be as much as £714million.
And one proposal for the A14 could seriously affect Fenstanton, widening the busy road which already splits the village in two.
The A14 scheme was originally costed at £490million in April, 2003 and, until now, the Highways Agency has said it was confident that would be the price the taxpayer would meet for free-flowing traffic on the only non-motorway element of Britain's strategic road network.
But new figures cost the scheme, including the Orange Route for the Huntingdon bypass - the alignment originally consulted on by the agency before a legal challenge by villagers in the Offords - at £639million, the Blue Route at £640million and the Brown Route through the unsettled tip at Buckden at £714million.
Variations to the Blue Route could reduce the cost to as low as £617million - but with the potential for serious environmental consequences.
A Government spokesman said the rising costs were due to increases in the price of fuel and steel used by the construction industry.
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In environmental terms, the Orange route is clearly the best, as The Hunts Post has consistently explained, particularly when cost is considered. There are no properties within 50 metres of it, just 14 within 300 metres, and none would need to be demolished. It also involves the smallest land-take.
The cheapest option, which would include widening the existing road where it already cuts Fenstanton in two, would affect 463 homes and 46 businesses (including the Dairy Crest plant, a local employer) and would mean knocking down five houses in the village.
But the biggest objections are likely to be on traffic management and air quality grounds.
Part of Fenstanton is an Air Quality Management Area because of pollution from the existing A14. The Highways Agency is required to take active steps to remove the pollution. Until last week those active steps meant moving the road further south into uninhabited farmland.
If chosen, "Blue Variation 2" would make Fenstanton's situation far worse. Parish, district and county councils would also be likely to oppose the route, delaying the start of work still further.