Huntingdonshire road improvements will continue under £850,000 pledge - but no plans for third river crossing

Areas for suggested Hunts road improvements. From Combined Authority transport study. Credit: Skansk

Areas for suggested Hunts road improvements. From Combined Authority transport study. Credit: Skanska/Capita/CAPCA - Credit: Archant

Work will continue to develop plans for two road improvement projects in Huntingdonshire following a £850,000 commitment, while no plans for a third river crossing will progress.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority board voted on Wednesday (August 6) to develop strategic outline business cases for improvements on the A141 in Huntingdon, and for improvements in St Ives town centre.

The process will see more concrete proposals drawn up, with estimated costs and feasibility work carried out.

Those two plans will progress, while the suggested third river crossing will no-longer go ahead, following a report which found it would bring little benefit.

A Combined Authority report says: “The comparison of the third river crossing with the A141 bypass has shown that the A141 bypass offers greater benefits than a Third River Crossing, in particular, by supporting additional growth beyond that identified within the Huntingdon Local Plan.

“The most significant benefit of the A141 bypass over a third river crossing is that it addresses the capacity issues along the existing A141 route, where a number of significant Local Plan development sites are located. A third river crossing does not.”

The Combined Authority also said studies have shown both a third river crossing and A141 bypass “did not provide any significant improvement beyond delivery of the A141 bypass alone”.

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According to the study commissioned by the Combined Authority, currently the most beneficial option for the A141 will be a single carriageway bypass between the A141/A1307 Spittals Interchange and the A141/B1090 Wyton roundabout.

A package of improvements in St Ives is also recommended, including the introduction of a 20mph zone, a right turn ban from Needingworth Road onto the A1123, and signalisation of the A1123/B1040 junction.

The plans will now be assessed in more detail at an estimated cost of £350,000 for the A141 strategic outline business case, and £500,000 for the St Ives strategic outline business case.

The leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, Conservative Ryan Fuller, said he welcomed the measures on behalf of his district, while defending the decision to drop the idea of a third river crossing.

He said: “The commitment to investigating a third river crossing was in the devolution deal. It predates both [the mayor’s election], and my election, much more recently as leader of Huntingdonshire District Council.

“That’s an important point to consider, because unfortunately there is a group of people locally labouring under a misapprehension that this was an absolutely committed scheme that has required a campaign against it to try and get it thrown out.

“What was in the devolution deal was to investigate the third river crossing, which was a solution put forward quite some years ago to tackle the challenge of delivering growth at RAF Wyton, and it was absolutely right for [the mayor] and this Combined Authority to do that investigation, but not in isolation, and that’s what we have done.

“We have looked at the other options, and I think we are all delighted locally that actually quite an environmentally damaging third river crossing isn’t necessary, and we have a better solution here with the A141 suggested improvements, that will deliver a much better scheme without having that level of significant environmental damage.”

He also welcomed the commitment for St Ives, saying it will be “a significant step forward for the town, which has suffered substantial traffic congestion issues for quite a number of years now.

“All in all this is very positive both for Huntingdon and for St Ives and all the settlements in between.”