THE announcement of the preferred A14 Huntingdon southern bypass route should come late next month. It had been expected as early as the end of August, but The Hunts Post believes the Highways Agency will wish to be meticulous in explaining why alternativ
THE announcement of the preferred A14 Huntingdon southern bypass route should come late next month.
It had been expected as early as the end of August, but The Hunts Post believes the Highways Agency will wish to be meticulous in explaining why alternative routes have been rejected.
In its anxiety to get the £640million Ellington-Fen Ditton improvements project energised in 2005, the agency overlooked a detail of its own consultation policies, leading to a successful challenge in the Court of Appeal by residents of the Offords.
That meant having to carry out a second consultation that included routes that had already been rejected.
Unless there is compelling new evidence, the agency is likely to announce plans for the bypass to be built as a six-lane highway largely along its proposed 2005 route.
That route was opposed in the Offords as residents feared visual intrusion and noise from a viaduct across the River Great Ouse and the East Coast mainline railway to the north. The residents have been campaigning for the route to be on the edge of Godmanchester, but the Highways Agency is likely to reject that.
The route favoured by Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdonshire and South Cambridgeshire district councils is the Orange route (the agency's original choice and the route indicated by the compilers of the Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study in 2001), though HDC has asked the road planners to consider a variation to the west of Buckden and Brampton.
If the agency persists with that, whatever it does west of Buckden, it will have rejected alternatives past Godmanchester, through the Buckden landfill site and on the existing alignment in Hemingford Grey and Fenstanton.
If it presses ahead with a six-lane road, it will also have resisted calls to keep the existing flyover open over the railway line at Huntingdon station.
The county council and HDC believe demolishing the viaduct is vital to the future economic prosperity of Huntingdon and to quality of life in Godmanchester. But some Buckden residents believe two proposed junctions on Brampton Road at Hinchingbrooke and by the station will bring congestion to the south-west of the town. Whatever route is chosen, there will be a public inquiry, probably in 2009.
County council deputy chief executive Brian Smith believes the inquiry would take at least two months. The main construction work is unlikely to start until 2010, though some work on the Fen Drayton-Fen Ditton section, not involved in the re-consultation, could begin sooner. The roads are unlikely to be open before 2015.
"Naturally, the county council has more than a passing interest in progress of the scheme, because it will inherit significant lengths of new roads built as part of the scheme to cater for local traffic," Mr Smith wrote recently to Huntingdon's MP Jonathan Djanogly.
"Also, if the Secretary of State chooses to remove the viaduct and downgrade the existing A14 between Fen Drayton and Alconbury/Brampton, the county will inherit those bypassed lengths of A14 dual carriageway."
The county would also take responsibility for new links planned between the de-trunked road and Huntingdon town centre.