Huge losses at stake on A428
THE economies of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire will lose out on employment opportunities worth £1.7billion if the A428 is not dualled between Caxton Gibbet and the A1 at Black Cat south of St Neots. A report by consulting engineers Mott MacDonald, commi
THE economies of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire will lose out on employment opportunities worth £1.7billion if the A428 is not dualled between Caxton Gibbet and the A1 at Black Cat south of St Neots.
A report by consulting engineers Mott MacDonald, commissioned by Cambridgeshire Horizons, the company tasked with delivering £3.1billion of infrastructure to support 50,000 new homes in the Cambridge sub-region by 2016, chronicles the economic disaster for the area if the scheme is not put back into the roads programme for the East of England.
Although the economic assessment has not yet been published, it will form the basis of a submission to the East of England Regional Assembly for an early start on the multi-million pound scheme.
With the completion this year of dualling the road between Caxton and Hardwick, it leaves just a few miles of single carriageway in South Cambridgeshire and south Huntingdonshire as the missing piece of the dualled link between Cambridge and west of Bedford.
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Horizons commissioned the research because it believed lack of the road represented a huge potential loss to the local and regional economies.
Stuart Bell, transport team leader for Huntingdonshire District Council, said the scheme was in the East of England programme for some time after 2016, when the A14 improvements should be completed. "We want to try to get that reconsidered next year for inclusion sooner than that," he told The Hunts Post.
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"It used to be in the programme for 2011-2016 and we want it put back. But we will be competing with a lot of other claims for priorities to change," he cautioned. "We feel we have a very good case, and this report will help us present it."
"We are delighted that the dualling between Hardwick and Caxton is now finished," said Cambridgeshire Horizons chief executive Stephen Catchpole in May when he announced the report. "We have commissioned this study - alongside the Highways Agency, which is also having another look at it - to see whether the wider economic benefits warrant moving Caxton-Black Cat up the programme.
"It is one of the strategic east-west routes, and we believe there would be major benefits to the eastern region and the Midlands, particularly the growth areas. It's a major issue for Huntingdonshire District Council to eliminate the bottleneck, if it becomes that."
Cambridgeshire is the fastest-growing area of Britain but, when the road was removed from the agency's strategic road network some years ago, it left the A14 as the only non-motorway regarded as having strategic importance.
"Until recently, the A428 was designated a major strategic route," said Mr Catchpole. "We think it should be again.