Dualling of the A428 and an updated A1 among Government plans for £1.5billion investment

Improvements to the A1 and A428 will now join the A14.

Improvements to the A1 and A428 will now join the A14. - Credit: Archant

The dualling of the A428 and improvements to the A1 feature as part of £1.5billion worth of Government investment for the east of England announced today (Monday).

The area will receive the cash injection set out in its wider £15billion ‘road investment strategy’, which is the biggest in a generation and is earmarked for updating major corridors.

The A428 will be converted into a dual carriageway, creating a continuous ‘expressway’ from Cambridge to Bedford and Milton Keynes. A new strategic study will look at the possibility of extending it from Milton Keynes to Oxford.

It is one of 84 named schemes, and construction is expected to start within five years. Government estimates of the total cost of the project are between £250million and £500million. The next step will be to move towards looking at the route and the planning consultation process.

The announcement, from Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, also promises to “open a new chapter in the history of the A1,” with improvements to the Black Cat roundabout. The two lane section of the A1(M) around Stevenage will also be upgraded, and a strategic study will examine the future of the A1 between Peterborough and the M25, including whether to upgrade the old dual carriageway section to motorway standard.

The overhaul in Huntingdonshire began with the 21-mile improvement scheme for the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon - estimated to cost about £1.5billion - which was revisited in 2012.

The investment will be divided between fifteen new projects in the east of England, which are expected to create 1,000 construction jobs.

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The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said: “I promised when I was in the east of England that we would address this area’s economic needs for the future.

“Our long term economic plan means today we can invest £1.5billion into the region’s infrastucture to improve, repair and expand our roads.

“Our plans will transform some of the country’s most important strategic routes.

“For years our roads have been neglected. Now that this Government is fixing the economy, we can afford to invest properly in our roads - unlocking jobs and local growth by creating a road network that is fit for the 21st century.”

Chairman of the A428/A428 Alliance, Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly, who has been at the forefront of the campaign for an upgrade, said: “I am delighted that our Government has now recognised the vital need to upgrade the A428. Today’s announcement is excellent news for my constituents in Huntingdonshire and for the east of England. These proposals are going to improve security for my constituents and also provide the infrastructure necessary to develop our local and regional businesses and indeed our prosperity moving forwards. This is a fine example of Conservative policies delivering for people in practice.

“Over 45 interested parties including local MPs, councils and councillors formed an alliance to lobby the Government on this key infrastructure issue. Across this corridor, a great deal of work has gone into leading a strong campaign for a better A428/A421 and I am pleased to say that today’s announcement is the successful outcome of that sustained effort. Now we need to keep the pressure on for this project to be delivered as soon as possible.

“I also welcome the news that the A1 is to be the basis of one of six feasibility studies that have also been announced today. This study will consider options for improvements of the A1 from the M25 through to Peterborough.

“Last Friday I met with Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire, as well as with representatives of the A1 Safety Group and the SG19 Group to discuss this very issue. In 1994 there were plans to reroute the A1 between Black Cat roundabout and Brampton to the west. This remains a popular option with local residents and I shall be working with them to make sure our local voice is heard in the coming feasibility study and consultation.

“Together, an upgraded A14, A428 and A1 will provide the infrastructure necessary for my constituency to move forwards and so I find this to be a very exciting and positive series of announcements.”

Councillor Jason Ablewhite, Huntingdonshire District Council’s executive leader, added: “I welcome today’s announcement from Central Government relating to strategic improvements to the transport network across Huntingdonshire. I am delighted to see that an upgrade of the long-awaited A428 improvements between Caxton Gibbet and the A1, including Black Cat roundabout and an investigation of an improved link between Milton Keynes and Oxford, has been announced.

“Improvements to this route will significantly benefit the local economy and residents of Huntingdonshire and we will also work tirelessly with partners and the A428 Alliance on this project, in addition to our A14 commitments, to seek the earliest possible delivery of this much-needed improvement. This is a most encouraging day for Huntingdonshire, and we must all seize the opportunities that this brings for all of us to unlock growth and work together to achieve all that has been announced.

“I am also extremely encouraged to see that the status of the A1 between Peterborough and the M25 is to be looked at in some detail. Since the M1 to Leeds and then the A1 north of that has been seen as the strategic route to the North, we have felt that the A1 through Huntingdonshire has become something of a ‘forgotten route’. The need for improvements is no more acute than at Buckden roundabout where our own infrastructure study has shown that it is a significant constraint to growth as well as the road being a blight on the residents of Buckden. The possibility of the route being upgraded to motorway standard is a very welcome and interesting development and like the A14 and A428 proposals, I will seek to ensure that Huntingdonshire is well represented in taking this work forward.”