More delays for A14 upgrade scheme

AS predicted some months ago by The Hunts Post, the Government has confirmed that the start of work on the £490million scheme to upgrade the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton could slip into 2010. But completion of the 22-mile stretch, which includes

AS predicted some months ago by The Hunts Post, the Government has confirmed that the start of work on the £490million scheme to upgrade the A14 between Ellington and Fen Ditton could slip into 2010.

But completion of the 22-mile stretch, which includes a new southern bypass for Huntingdon, is still promised for 2015.

Transport Minister, Stephen Ladyman has told South Cambridgeshire's MP Andrew Lansley that the Highways Agency was looking at ways to get widening work started on the stretch between Cambridge Services and Fen Ditton following a major hiccup in developing the western part of the scheme.

Mr Lansley said: "The implication is that 2010 is the earliest date. I am extremely disappointed the start date for work to the A14 appears to have slipped again. In March I was told start of work was envisaged


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to be 2009.

"I have written again to the Minister to remind him of his commitment just eight months ago and urged him to instruct the Highways Agency to expedite the process for a start within three years."

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Progress on the stretch between Ellington and Cambridge Services, at Swavesey, was stalled when residents of the Offords successfully challenged the previous public consultation on a procedural technicality.

A new three-month consultation on that part of the route will start next month.

But business leaders are concerned that money earmarked for the scheme - the A14 is the only non-motorway in the strategic road network - will evaporate if work does not start soon.

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the trade association British Hauliers, told The Hunts Post yesterday (Tuesday): "It's already five years late and it is not acceptable to wait until 2010 to start on any part of the scheme. My big concern is that we shall be failing to get the funding in place and won't even get a start then. That's a key issue.

"Letters we have specifically state that funding is subject to availability at the time of the work. That's not acceptable. We need to be certain it's going to happen and that there's absolute certainty of funding."

Mr Bridge urged Huntingdonshire people to write to Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander in their droves.

"The Institution of Civil Engineers said the road is at breaking point. But so are the businesses and everyone else who are using it. We need to show the depth and breadth of feeling and leave the Secretary of State in no doubt. It's fundamental to the way people live in our area.

"We have to bang the drum to keep our priorities at the top of the list."

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly said his constituents were "sick of the delay and just want something to happen.

"While I understand people in the Offords wanting re-consultation, I have had a zero post-bag. There's just a feeling that it's got to move on. People are getting a bit sick of the moving dates.

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