Roads Minister refused A14 invitation but promises solution

ROADS Minister Mike Penning has refused an invitation from The Hunts Post to see congestion on the A14 in Cambridgeshire for himself – but says he understands the need for a long-term solution “within a timescale that reflects the urgency of the issue”.

Hunts Post Editor Andy Veale wrote to the Government in November to urge Ministers to restore an improvement programme for the road – cancelled in October 2010 to save money – to the strategic roads investment programme.

Mr Veale pointed out to the Chancellor, George Osborne, and the Transport Secretary Justine Greening that the road served a part of Britain that was pivotal to the country’s economic recovery – the ‘golden triangle’ bounded by London and the key university cities of Cambridge and Oxford.

Mr Penning said he recognised the growth aspirations for housing and business served by the A14 corridor, particularly in Cambridgeshire at Alconbury and Northstowe, and the road’s national importance.

He added: “I can assure you that officials from the Department for Transport have visited the A14 and have seen first hand the issues with the current road, including the congestion.

“The department has carried out and plans to publish shortly a scoping study to understand the highest priority challenges that need addressing on the A14, and as a result of that work we now better understand why sections of the road have a high accident rate.”

The Chancellor announced in November’s Autumn Statement a �20million investment in the road between Ellington in west Huntingdon and Fen Ditton, north-east of Cambridge – mostly improvement of the interchanges at Spittals in Huntingdon and Girton on the outskirts of Cambridge.

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Mr Penning said the objective would be to reduce the impact that accidents have on the road.

“While the �20m package is good news for Cambridgeshire, the Government is committed to find a long-term solution for the A14 within a timescale that reflects the urgency of the issue.”

He urged people to respond to the ‘A14 Challenge’ issued by the DfT last month, seeking users’ and residents’ views on affordable improvements to the road.