A14: Tolls could cost Suffolk £142 million over 25 years

A14 West between Haughley and the Woolpit junction. The road surface is concrete which needs replaci

A14 West between Haughley and the Woolpit junction. The road surface is concrete which needs replacing. - Credit: Archant

Even the cheapest tolls on the A14 in Cambridgeshire could cost Suffolk-based road users more than £142 million over the next quarter century.

Tolls of £1 for cars and £2 for HGVs would take £5.7 million a year out of the county’s economy, the county council’s transport spokesman warned during a debate at the authority’s cabinet yesterday.

However members still agreed to pay a £1 million “joining fee” to give the authority a seat at the table as the details of the £1.5 billion new road are discussed.

Cabinet member with responsibility for transport Graham Newman said local authorities and other bodies had been told by the government that they needed to help fund the new road, and would be expected to find about £100 million.

Most of this would come from Cambridgeshire councils and from the Cambridgeshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

However Suffolk was being asked for a contribution in order to have a say in the planning of the new road.

Mr Newman said the road was vital for the economy of Suffolk – for hauliers heading to and from the Haven ports, for other businesses, for leisure trips, and to bring tourists to the county.

Most Read

He said: “We are very concerned about the proposals for a toll road but it is very important that we have a seat at the table while this is discussed.”

The proposal received unanimous backing at the cabinet meeting – there were no other interventions from other members.

However Green councillor Andrew Stringer has urged the county to re-think to help pay for the toll road – and use the money to help resurface part of the A14 in Suffolk.

The stretch of the road in his division between the end of the new Haughley by-pass and the Woolpit junction is made of concrete which, he says needs to be replaced.

However instead of rebuilding the complete road Mr Stringer said it had regularly been patched and was becoming increasingly unsafe.

He said: “The Highways Agency has been putting in filler to close up gaps between concrete slabs but this does not work well, and the whole road needs to be rebuilt.

“It would be better for Suffolk County Council to offer them £1million to get the road repaired in Suffolk rather than for a toll road on the other side of Cambridge.”

The road noise was a major problem for residents of the area: “The traffic makes a lot of noise – it is a real problem for local people,” he added.

Mr Newman rejected his suggestion: “This is a different matter altogether. We are proposing putting in £1 million towards a new road, the county council does not finance the maintenance of Highways Agency roads.”

And there is some relief in the pipeline – a spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: “We are aware that there are surface defects on the A14 between Haughley and Woolpit in Suffolk.

“The Highways Agency will bid for funding in September, with a view to resurfacing 500 metres of the westbound carriageway at Woolpit in the next financial year.”