The A14 upgrade has been hit with its first delay as the announcement of the preferred route has been postponed until next year.
The Highways Agency (HA) had intended to release the proposed route of the new A14 by the end of this year but said that due to the Government announcement on removing the tolling element, planners had put the date back until early 2014.
The HA announced the delay last Wednesday (December 11) as it published its report into the results of the public consultation held in September and October.
There were almost 1,600 responses from 1,373 respondent to the consultation, with views from as far as Scotland and Wales.
The key findings were that the scheme would reduce congestion, that tolling was almost universally unpopular and that the route east of Swavesey is not contentious.
It also found that there was a lack of support for a southern Huntingdon bypass, though this is believed to be a side effect of the proposed tolling scheme, and half of the respondents believed the Huntingdon viaduct should be retained.
Concerns were raised about the Huntingdon bypass’s proximity to villages, particularly the elevated section near Hilton.
The road in this area will need to be high enough to avoid water from West Brook and its flood plain but the HA could not confirm what the height of the road is expected to be.
The consultation report said: “Reasons for suggesting alternative routes for the bypass to the south of Huntingdon generally related to the need to preserve the river valley landscape views and tranquillity, and to share more equally the impact of the scheme.”
It added that a shorter bypass, which was suggested by a number of respondents, would join the A14 at Hemingford rather than at Swavesey, as put forward by the HA. However, the report adds that this was discounted as it would move the route closer to a larger number of properties and would require some homes to be demolished.
“Any realignment of the route away from one village will inevitably mean that it is, instead, closer to another,” the report states.
“The alignment of the proposed bypass has therefore been chosen to minimise the impacts of the scheme.”
The HA’s project timeline will see the preferred route announced next year, followed by the submission of a development consent order (DCO), expected to be accepted by the planning inspectorate by the end of 2014.
An examination into the DCO will take place at the start of 2015, with an inspector submitting a report to the Secretary of State, who will make the decision at the end of that year.
The deadline for appeals will be in spring 2016, with the first spade in the ground by the end of that year.