Business secretary Vince Cable spoke of the importance of upgrading key East Anglian A-roads, but refused to rule out tolling the proposed new section of the A14.
Dr Cable, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, said: “The important thing is to get the road built. The road that links coastal areas to the Midlands is an important necessity and how you fund it is an important issue. It may be tolling is the only way of getting it built quickly and that is why the government is looking at it. It works well in France because it is a big country and there are not many turn-offs. It is more difficult here where it is easy for people to bypass the toll and go through small towns.”
He added: “For it to be successful depends on how it is designed. The M6 tool around Birmingham is quite a success, but it is not making money for the developer. There is a difficult balance to be struck between making it convenient for the motorist and protecting small towns.”
A £1.5billion upgrade of the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge – including a new Huntingdon bypass has – been proposed by the Highways Agency but would include toll scheme that could charge motorists between £1 and £3.
Concerns have been raised that motorists would try to avoid the toll by using the A428 – adding to the congestion – or rat-running through towns and villages in Huntingdonshire. Details of the preferred route are due to be announced by the end of the year.