APPROVED: Government backs £1.8billion A14 Huntingdon to Cambridge upgrade
- Credit: Archant
The Government has backed plans to upgrade the A14 – it was announced today (Wednesday)
The £1.8billion upgrade project was given the green light by the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, after three months of deliberations.
Mr McLoughlin said his department would “look forward” to working with Highways England as the scheme moved forward.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We have approved Highways England’s plans to upgrade the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon after reviewing the findings of the planning inspectors’ report.
“We look forward to working with Highways England as the project progresses.”
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Among a wide package of work planned as part of the upgrade, a section of the A1 trunk road between Brampton and Alconbury will be widened, the road viaduct over the railway at Huntingdon will be removed and a new bypass will be built to the south of Huntingdon.
The proposed scheme starts at Ellington, on the existing A14 to the west of Huntingdon, and extends to the Milton junction on the Cambridge Northern Bypass.
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The work, which Highways England say is scheduled to begin towards the end of the year, is expected to be ongoing until 2020, although work on Huntingdon’s viaduct could continue after that.
The government has pledged up to £1.5bn to fund the scheme, which, according to projections, could cost up to £1.8bn.
Additional funding has also been secured from the Greater Cambridgeshire/Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (£50 million), Cambridgeshire County Council (£25 million), and Huntingdonshire District Council (£5 million) – amongst others.
John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said:
We are delighted that the government has at last accepted the need for the upgrade and given the go ahead.
“This upgrade is absolutely key. Everybody knows and understands that if we are going to be able to continue with the growth and economic success that we have had in this region than this project needs to progress.
“It really is something which, to me, is a very major step in terms of being able to improve the quality of life for everybody as well as being able to allow business to develop and grow.”
Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly said:
“I am delighted that the Government recognised the vital need to upgrade the A14 and that the Secretary of State has today announced his formal approval of the application to upgrade the road.
“Having been at the forefront of the campaign to upgrade the A14 for over a decade I certainly welcome this development and appreciate that the A14 is a priority project for this government. Today’s announcement is excellent news for my constituents in Huntingdonshire and for the East of England.
“The A14 upgrade will improve safety for users of the road and provide the infrastructure necessary to develop our local and regional businesses and indeed our prosperity moving forwards.
“Local MPs, Councils, business leaders and the Local Enterprise Partnership have all put a great deal of work into leading a strong campaign for a better A14 and I am pleased to see a successful outcome of that sustained effort.”
Chris Taylor, director for complex infrastructure at Highways England, said:
“This is great news for everyone who uses the A14 through Cambridgeshire, from local residents and businesses to national and international haulage companies. The scheme will provide much needed additional capacity to improve journey times and safety.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to give their views. All the input received has helped us shape the scheme.
“We are keen to keep the momentum going and will get preparations for construction underway as soon as possible after the end of the six-week statutory challenge period.”
Neil Darwin, chief executive of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, said:
“Upgrading the A14 is critical for the continued economic growth of our local area, which is why we are delighted that the minister has today announced that work can progress on the delivery of the scheme.
“From day one of the LEP, the upgrading of the A14 was one of our key priorities, and as the single largest local contributor to the scheme, investing £50 million towards the upgrade, we are delivering on that commitment to business.
“In addition to the upgrading of the A14 we have secured funding for a new Highways Academy at WATA, located on the edge of Huntingdon, to give local people the opportunity to gain the skills they need to secure employment as a part of the road upgrade works.”
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, chairman of the economy and environment committee, said:
“Improving the accident and congestion blighted A14 has been a top priority for Cambridgeshire County Council. We have consistently championed the project and lobbied hard to make sure it was put back on the table even after it was removed from the programme.
“The improvements to the road are vital to boosting the local and regional economy but more importantly to reduce the number of deaths and accidents that happen regularly. We welcome today’s news that this scheme has been given the go ahead for construction and look forward to it now being built as soon as possible. We are working closely with Highways England not only to make sure work starts as soon as possible but to ensure construction is managed in a way to minimise disruption to communities along the route.”