East Anglia: Highways bosses confident of political will for A14 upgrade

Congestion on part of the A14 near Huntingdon.

Congestion on part of the A14 near Huntingdon. - Credit: Archant

Officials at the Highways Agency believe there is the political will to press ahead with the improvements to the A14 – despite the next general election being just a year away.

During a webchat today, Mike Evans from the Highways Agency said: “There is determination and political will to deliver these improvements. This consultation is an important part of that process.”

He was answering questions about the proposed improvement to the A14 between Cambridge and Brampton, just south of Huntingdon, which has become a serious bottleneck over the last 20 years.

The scheme is currently the subject of consultation exercise – of which the webchat was one element – and a formal application to build the road is expected to be submitted in August.

This will be followed by further consultations and an examination in public next year. The final decision on the proposal to build the £1.5 billion, 15-mile road is expected to be taken in early 2016. If it is given the go-ahead work should start later that year and the road should be open by 2020.

Much of the discussion on the webchat was about the impact of the new road on communities near to the proposed work.

The contractors for the project are expected to be appointed next year. The road will have four-lanes in each carriageway between Cambridge and Swavesey and three in each carriageway from Swavesey to Brampton, where it meets the A1.

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Mr Evans said that during the construction, which will probably take between three and four years, the existing roads would remain open with the same number of lanes – but there would probably be some narrowed lanes with speed restrictions.

He added: “The design of the scheme takes into account how busy the A14 is, and what we will need to do to reduce any impact on road users.”

The current government is committed to the new road, and Labour candidate for Ipswich in next year’s general election David Ellesmere said he was confident the party would back it as well if it won power.

“The proposal isn’t that different from the one we drew up and was cancelled by the new government after the 2010 election – except the costs have increased because of the delay.

“The problem after the last election was that the new government put a halt to major infrastructure projects – Labour would not make the same mistake.”