A DECISION on the preferred route for the controversial A14 Huntingdon southern bypass is expected in the summer, closely followed by appointment of a contractor for the entire 22-mile route between Ellington and Fen Ditton. The Highways Agency last week announced, as expected, that there had been overwhelming public support for widening the section eastwards from Fen Drayton in the existing corridor. More than 4,000 people responded to the original consultation in summer 2005, with three-quarters supporting widening on the existing alignment, with parallel local roads. The agency is now analysing more than 5,000 responses to his year's further consultation on the route of the Huntingdon bypass. The proposed new road east of Fen Drayton deviates only slightly from the present line, with a new interchange to be built a little to the north of the junction at Bar Hill. The 10.5-mile section between Fen Drayton and Fen Ditton, north-east of Cambridge, will include eight junctions, as now. The section between Ellington and Fen Drayton is likely to have only two proposed junctions west of Fen Drayton - one somewhere between Ellington and Brampton Hut and the other near Buckden - instead of the present eight (Brampton Hut, Brampton/racecourse, Spittals, Godmanchester, Hemingford Abbots, Hemingford Grey, Galley Hill and Fenstanton). After the chosen design-and-build contractor has done detailed road and junction design, draft orders are expected late next year, with a start of work on the Fen Drayton-Fen Ditton section in 2010. Given the strength of support for the Highways Agency's proposals for that section, a public inquiry might not be necessary, making a start in 2009 still possible. That will not be the case with the western part of the route, where a public inquiry is inevitable. Although Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdonshire District Council have strongly backed the agency's original route - except for a short stretch west of Buckden - there has been strong opposition, particularly from the Offords, where residents support a route nearer Godmanchester that runs through the middle of Buckden tip. The plan to demolish the existing viaduct over the East Coast main line railway near Huntingdon station has also enraged some residents of Brampton and Buckden. The whole scheme is scheduled for completion by 2015 - five years later than when the plan was originally unveiled on All Fools' Day 2003. The estimated cost of the scheme has risen in that time from £490million to £640million.