Enthusiasm over A14 viaduct plan

COUNCILS in Huntingdonshire have enthusiastically backed plans to demolish the A14 viaduct at Huntingdon railway station when the new southern bypass of the town is complete. The plans follow a study by consultants WS Atkins into the feasibility of the 20

COUNCILS in Huntingdonshire have enthusiastically backed plans to demolish the A14 viaduct at Huntingdon railway station when the new southern bypass of the town is complete.

The plans follow a study by consultants WS Atkins into the feasibility of the 2001 Cambridge-Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study route.

Atkins found not only was the prospect of demolishing the viaduct feasible in transport terms, but it could cut traffic on the ring road by one third and through Godmanchester by half.

The preferred solution envisages lowering the existing road at Castle Hill and providing junctions at Mill Common and Brampton Road, where a new west-of-town-centre link with Ermine Street would also join. There would also be a new access to the railway station.

West of the railway line would be a new junction and link road across Views Common leading to an enhanced and simplified interchange with Brampton Road and Hinchingbrooke Park Road.

Making the existing A14 into a local road would provide the capacity needed not only to expand Huntingdon town centre but to accommodate 1,000 new homes about to be built near Spittals and expansion of business parks off the A141 in west Huntingdon.

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The study will help the Highways Agency formulate a preferred route for the southern by-pass, which will form part of the £490million Ellington-Fen Ditton improvements.

The two councils, together with the other sponsors of the study - Cambridgeshire Horizons and the East of England Development Agency - will urge the Secretary of State for Transport, currently Douglas Alexander, to incorporate the new Huntingdon road layout into decisions on the A14.

If he does so, implementation would help solve pollution problems in Huntingdon town centre. The new bypass itself would resolve similar issues in parts of Fenstanton and Brampton by moving traffic further from the villages.

If approved, a detailed engineering assessment would be needed before the road layout is finalised.

The cabinet will now commend it to the Secretary of State and urge him to approve the necessary statutory orders.

The public is to be consulted on a new "vision" for Huntingdon that would be opened up by demolition of the viaduct.

Following the county's enthusiastic endorsement of the plan the previous week, Huntingdonshire District Council has added its unanimous backing.

Councillor Nick Guyatt, executive cabinet member for environment and transport, acknowledged that some people would be disadvantaged by any improvement scheme and promised that the council would try to lessen any adverse effects. "But it is vital that councillors focus on the benefits to the people of Huntingdonshire of any significant development," he told colleagues.

For Huntingdon's prosperity, bringing down the viaducts was even more important than that the new road should be built as dual three-lane (which it will be if the Secretary of State agrees to demolition), Cllr Guyatt said. It would bring industrial growth and more housing to the town, with "huge benefits" to the surrounding area. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something for Huntingdonshire.

But he stressed that the lines drawn by Atkins on maps were no more than indicative of where new roads in the town centre might be built.

And he acknowledged that congestion had deliberately been built into the proposals to prevent heavy traffic using the town as a rat-run rather than taking a slightly longer route by way of the new by-pass.

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