A14 announcement delayed

REGULAR users of the A14 will have to wait until the end of this month to learn officially what they probably know already. The Highways Agency s announcement of a preferred route for the new A14 southern bypass, expected in late summer – which was expl

REGULAR users of the A14 will have to wait until the end of this month to learn officially what they probably know already.

The Highways Agency's announcement of a preferred route for the new A14 southern bypass, expected in "late summer" - which was explained as late September or early October - has been "slightly delayed". It will go to Ministers shortly for approval, which could become fudged if Prime Minister Gordon Brown were to call a snap General Election for early November.

There is little doubt that the agency is unlikely to move its chosen alignment far from its original route that would mean Fenstanton and Hemingford would escape widening on the existing alignment. A route through Buckden tip - supported by Offord residents, but strongly opposed by the Environment Agency, and the most expensive option - is also likely to be a non-runner.

Apart from variations west of Buckden and Brampton towards Ellington, this leaves just the original route to which some Offords residents objected (and successfully challenged the consultation process in the High Court) and a more northerly alignment that would be environmentally damaging to Godmanchester.

The agency is expected to prefer its original choice at least as far west as Buckden, though perhaps with some minor local changes to meet detailed objections.

There was no second consultation on the eastern section of the route - between Fen Drayton and Fen Ditton - on which construction work could start in 2008/09 if the Government comes up with the promised cash.

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The whole 22-mile improvement scheme between Ellington and Fen Ditton is likely to cost around £650million if the agency sticks closely to its original alignment.

A spokesman told The Hunts Post: "The announcement of the preferred route for the western section of the scheme has been delayed slightly. This is due to the large response from the further consultation and the time taken to collate all the information from the consultation and produce the necessary documentation.

"The procurement (tender) process is continuing in parallel to that of the preferred route announcement.

"In the meantime, essential survey work, which is required to take the scheme forward, is being carried out by the Highways Agency where possible in order to avoid any delay to scheme progress.

"We still intend (subject to the requisite statutory process, including public inquiry) to complete all the works by 2015 as originally promised.

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