When will ministers take a decision on A14 rebuild across Suffolk?
PUBLISHED: 05:30 13 February 2020
Proposals to publish a list of new road schemes to be started over the next five years are believed to have been sent back to the drawing board following the government’s decisive victory in December’s General Election.
Highways England, the government department responsible for maintaining and enhancing the country's trunk roads, had been due to publish its Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) for 2020-25 last autumn - but this was delayed when the election was called.
It is due to run from April 1 this year, and has still not been published. Now it is understood that the whole document is being reworked following the changed political climate in the UK. Whether any comprehensive RIS2 document will be published is still unclear.
Individual major schemes are still be progressed - earlier this week it was announced that Highways England was going ahead with a proposal to build a new road from the west of Cambridge to St Neots, including a new interchange with the A1.
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However politicians and business leaders from Suffolk who are trying to get the Agency to commit to upgrading the A14 in the county are still unclear when they might hear whether their campaign has been successful.
And there is a feeling that transport infrastructure policy is being driven more from Number 10 Downing Street than the Department for Transport.
Suffolk MPs who wrote a letter calling for more investment in the A14 last week sent it to Chancellor Sajid Javid rather than Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. Mr Shapps has been told his job is safe in today's government reshuffle and has a close working relationship with Mr Johnson - but much of the driving force for the new infrastructure planning is coming from Number 10.
There remain fears that the new government's priorities will be focussed on the north of England where it won a swathe of new seats for the first time - but the campaigners for the A14 are increasingly stressing the need to improve links between the midlands and north and the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich.
Any further announcement on investment in East Anglian roads may come as individual projects rather than part of a new national road strategy. And if there is ultimately a new RIS2 document, it might not be published until after April 1 - the date it was due to come into force.