March 12 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Correspondent
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Transport bosses are still undecided about what the upgraded A14 will look like, it has emerged, as new figures show more than £3million has already been spent on the scheme in this financial year.
New roads minister Robert Goodwill has said the preferred route for the road would be announced in early 2014, but he was still considering responses from consultation.
Earlier this year the Government unveiled proposals including improvements to the Cambridge section of the A14, which would remain toll-free, and the construction of a new section of road south of Huntingdon, which would have been the subject of tolls.
Part of the existing elevated section of the A14 in Huntingdon would have been demolished under the plans, with weight restrictions on the town’s remodelled road network leaving lorry drivers with the choice of paying the toll or taking a lengthy diversion.
But the Chancellor has put a stop to the toll plans, leaving the Department for Transport (DfT) left considering the implications of the decision.
Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh has tabled parliamentary questions asking for the costs of the plans so far and if the Government was going to revert back to pre-2010 plans which were in place under the previous Labour government.
She said: “They have spent three years wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on their toll plans, and have finally abandoned them.
“But incompetent ministers have still not decided their preferred route for the A14.
“This out-of-touch Government is incapable of delivering the roads our country needs.
“Their half-baked plan to toll the A14 would have caused chaos on local roads, worsened congestion and threatened jobs at the port of Felixstowe.”
In the answer to the questions, Mr Goodwill said: “The Highways Agency has recently consulted with the public on proposals for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement, specifically a route between Ellington and Milton.
“This is not the same scheme that was proposed prior to May 2010 although it does have a number of similarities.
“The agency is still considering the many representations received, together with the implications of the decision not to toll, and expects to announce a preferred route early in 2014.”
According to the DfT figures the Government has spent £4.17m on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme since 2010.
This breaks down into £885,000 spent in 2012-13 and the remaining £3.28m so far during this financial year.