A £1.5billion upgrade of the A14 from Huntingdon to Cambridge will remove the district’s biggest barrier to economic prosperity, it has been claimed.
The long-awaited southern bypass for Huntingdon was included in the 22-mile proposed route, announced by the Highways Agency (HA) on Monday.
A new three-lane stretch of carriageway will be built between Swavesey and Ellington and will be a toll road with just two junctions – at Brampton and on the A1198 south of Godmanchester.
Work is due to start in late 2016 and could be completed by 2019-20.
The improvement scheme also includes:
n The demolition of the A14 viaduct over the railway in Huntingdon. The existing dual carriageway would be de-trunked and joined to town roads.
n Extra lanes on the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury to cope with increased traffic from the new bypass.
n The widening of the Swavesey to Milton section, with a new access road built alongside the improved A14 between Fen Drayton and Girton
Welcoming the news, John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, a long-term supporter of improving the route, said: “Having been involved for so many years, I have looked at every single sce-nario there is, and I believe the propos-als being brought forward are the best solution that we can have for this road.
“It has been a barrier to growth we have had to deal with as well as being a nightmare experience for anyone who has to travel on it.
“We need people to get behind it in a proactive and practical way. There’s always going to be a minority who are very vocal against the proposals.
“The silent majority need to be vocal to show support for the scheme.”
A public consultation on the plans started on Monday and runs until Sun-day, October 13. The HA has identified its preferred route which will be shown alongside six other options considered previously, including those from the Department for Transport’s A14 study in 2011/12.
The Government will fund the major-ity of the scheme but £50million is coming from contributions from local authorities, including Huntingdonshire District Council.
A further £50m has been pledged by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peter-borough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
LEP chairman Grahame Nix said: “This is a demonstration of the commit-ment to ensure we start this programme in 2016.
“The A14 is known by many from well outside this area as a major trans-port problem. That affects people’s per-ception of our area as a place to set up and grow business. Now there’s a sense of optimism that we will have really strong infrastructure.”
Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly said he was not surprised by the route, which largely followed the scheme abandoned by the Government in 2010.
He said: “Given that traffic is pre-dicted to increase by over 26 per cent between 2010 and 2025, it is vital to move ahead with this new road as soon as possible.
“The red line issue for me was always that a non-tolled local alternative remained. I am pleased to see that this will be the case with the existing A14 being de-trunked.”
A series of public exhibitions are planned in the Cambridge and Hunting-don area from next week.
Following the consultation, a pre-ferred route will be announced late this year. A further consultation will take place in the spring and a Development
Consent Order will be made towards the end of next year.
INFORMATION: For more on the plans and to access a consultation brochure, go to www.highways.gov.uk/A14CambridgetoHuntingdon