The mayor of Cambridgeshire says he has been assured by highways officials that the start of work to upgrade the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet road will not be delayed until 2022.

Work is taking place to upgrade a 10-mile stretch of the A14. Picture: HIGHWAYS ENGLANDWork is taking place to upgrade a 10-mile stretch of the A14. Picture: HIGHWAYS ENGLAND

James Palmer met with officials from Highways England this earlier this month to hear updates on progress and to follow up the announcement of the preferred route of the scheme.

Mr Palmer said he was “disappointed” when he heard last year that although the ambition of the scheme had increased, the timescale for the start of the work had slipped to 2022.

Mr Palmer said that to minimise impact on the local economy, construction should start as soon as possible, and he now says Highways England has confirmed work will begin in 2021.

Mr Palmer said: “The news comes as a welcome boost and is a sign that Government and its agencies recognise the strong voice we have in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough for our economy and the need for investment in order to continue its excellent growth.

“While I was pleased that over the course of the development of this scheme, Highways England has increased the scope and ambition of the upgrade, I was disappointed that commencement of works may slip from 2021 to 2022. The Government is looking to start East-West Rail from the Oxford end, and I have made it clear to them that plans and preparations for a road expressway starting from the eastern side should remain on schedule.

“So I was pleased to be updated that works can begin in 2021 and that our calls have been listened to. I will be working to ensure this timetable remains on course.”

Last month the preferred route of the scheme was announced and will see at least £810million of road infrastructure investment. The upgrade, Highways England has said, will reduce journey times by a third. It is also expected to remove 4,000 vehicles from local roads at peak times, and reduce the pressure on ‘rat run’ routes through local villages.

A three tier junction at the Black Cat roundabout will allow traffic to flow freely on the A1, A421 and the new road. New junctions at Cambridge Road and Caxton Gibbet will connect the new dual carriageway to the existing A428.