Britain’s biggest road-building project - the £1.5 billion A14 upgrade - is officially opening eight months early, Highways England has announced.
The 21 mile Huntingdon to Cambridge scheme was expected to open to traffic at the end of the year but work has been running ahead of schedule and on Tuesday (May 5) Highways England said the last of the major roadworks had been removed and that the new lanes were open to traffic.
Huntingdon’s new 12 mile bypass opened last December, a year early, and other stretches of the key route have also opened, despite extra precautions put in place because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Highways England said the work had now largely been completed, enabling permanent roadworks to be removed and the 70mph speed limit restored.
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive, said: “This upgrade is a key addition to our national infrastructure, better linking the North of England and the Midlands to the East of England and to the Haven ports.
“It also brings economic benefits to the wider region and local towns and communities.”
Mr O’Sullivan said: “Being able to open it more than six months early and on budget shows what the UK construction industry can achieve with an integrated client team, common goals and targets and a shared vision of success.
“I would like to thank everyone across Highways England and our supply chain for their contribution to this project as well as road users, residents and stakeholders for their patience and support during the work.”
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “Our roads are more important than ever as we work to keep Britain moving, and I’m delighted that this key stretch of road will benefit drivers even sooner than planned.
“The upgrade will deliver faster, easier journeys for those travelling between Cambridge and Huntingdon, and will also improve links to the UK’s largest container port at Felixstowe - further bolstering our efforts to move goods around the UK at this critical time.”
Work started on the long-awaited project in November 2016 and construction continues in the Huntingdon area where new link roads are being built and the viaduct over the railway station is to be demolished.
The scheme runs between Ellington and Milton, near Cambridge, and has seen the existing road widened, new sections of carriageway built and the original stretch between Fenstanton and Huntingdon converted to a local road and renumbered the A1307.
Highways England has calculated that building the road took 14 million construction hours, the equivalent of almost 1,600 years, with up to 2,500 personnel working at its peak.
Further work on verges, landscaping, cycle, horse riding and pedestrian links will continue, requiring some overnight closures and off-peak daytime closures.
Work around Huntingdon is expected to last until 2022, including the demolition of the 1,600 tonne viaduct.