Cambridgeshire congestion will cost £700 per worker each year

CONGESTION will be costing £700 a year by 2021 for every single worker in the Cambridge sub-region, which includes most of Huntingdonshire, according to a major new study published on Tuesday. Congestion-related productivity losses outside Cambridge are e

CONGESTION will be costing £700 a year by 2021 for every single worker in the Cambridge sub-region, which includes most of Huntingdonshire, according to a major new study published on Tuesday.

Congestion-related productivity losses outside Cambridge are even greater than in the city itself, according to the Transport Economic Evidence Study, carried out by respected transport consultants Steer, Davies, Gleave for the East of England Development Agency.

And it includes unwelcome news for opponents of plans for congestion charging in Cambridge, which some county councillors hope will release more than £500million of Government money for transport improvements across the county.

The study demonstrated that improved urban access to Cambridge would have large economic benefits, EEDA said yesterday. "However this should be focused on reduction of congestion by increased supply of public transport and demand management, not by increased road capacity. A 10 per cent reduction in congestion in Cambridge would give a £250m boost to the local economy over a 60-year appraisal period," a spokesman added.


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The study points to key economic corridors for action, including the A428/A421 between Cambridge and Milton Keynes and the A14 between Cambridge and Peterborough, although it assumes the £1.2billion Ellington-Fen Ditton improvements, on which work is due to start in 2010, will already be in place.

"The Highways Agency assessment of the A14, and the Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi-modal study has already demonstrated a clear economic rationale for implementing this scheme as soon as possible, which EEDA supports," the spokesman added.

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Across the six counties of the East of England, congestion was costing £1billion in 2003 and, without radical action, that figure could double to just over £2billion a year in 2021, the report says. Of that, the direct costs to business productivity, the equivalent of Gross Domestic Product, are predicted to be £1.3 billion a year.

Nationally, this is the first regional study of its kind that looks not only at the cost of congestion but also where constraints on the transport network are causing the most economic damage and what should be done about it.

It identifies that 85 per cent of the costs of congestion are borne in the region's seven 'engines of growth' identified in the regional economic strategy - including Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough.

EEDA said the region could now use the study to boost the business case for increased investment in the region's transport network, target investment to have the greatest economic impact, and support work to secure new sources of funding to bring forward transport investments that might otherwise not happen for some time.

Chairman Richard Ellis said: "The study is important not just in the region but nationally as well, because the East of England is one of only three regional net contributors to UK plc. Maintained investment the region's transport network is therefore vital to the national economy and to help businesses compete in a global marketplace.

"Investment in transport is critical to supporting the regional and national economy, but equally working smarter and managing demand will be key to unlocking economic growth.

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