THE Highways Agency still does not know how it will spend the £20million earmarked last week by the Chancellor of the Exchequer for short-term improvements on the A14.

The furthest the agency was able to go this week was: “A number of options are being considered as part of the £20m improvement package for the A14.

“These could include improving capacity on the slip roads at the Spittals and Girton interchanges to relieve congestion at these busy junctions without compromising safety. Further details will be available in due course.”

It is highly unusual for the Treasury to release project-related funds without knowing exactly what the public’s cash is going to buy.

Cambridgeshire County Council had slightly more idea. A spokesman said: “The funding will pay for improvements to the layout of two major junctions at the two ends of the Huntingdon to Cambridge section of the A14: the Girton and Spittals interchanges.

“The investment package will also deliver a number of measures that will reduce the impacts that incidents have on the road, including the provision of more helpful information via messaging signs to drivers in the area when there is a problem on the A14.

“Cambridgeshire County Council officials, the Highways Agency and the Department for Transport have worked together to identify these measures, which will improve the situation on the A14 until a long term solution can be put in place.”

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce who has been an ardent campaigner for A14 improvements for many years, believes the cash could trigger implementation of additional slip roads for which the Highways Agency already owns land but which it has consistently refused to build because of the now-abandoned £1.2bn improvement scheme between Ellington and Fen Ditton.

He said that, when the Spittals interchange was originally built in the 1980s, the agency’s predecessors had bought adjacent land that could now be used to provide a links from the A141 to the eastbound A14 and beside the westbound carriageway, in both cases avoiding traffic having to use the speed-restricted and light-controlled roundabout.

“I wonder if that’s part of their remit, but I haven’t been able to get any information,” Mr Bridge told The Hunts Post. “What we don’t want to happen is for them to dream up something just to spend the money. The £20m seems to be a finger-in-the-air figure.”