East Anglia: Upgrade hope for A14

CAMPAIGNERS are hoping there may still be alternative means of funding an A14 improvement scheme which was shelved earlier this year by the Government.

Draft orders for the Highways Agency’s �1.1billion programme for the A14 between Ellington, near Huntingdon, and Fen Ditton, near Cambridge, were published late last year.

But earlier this year the Department for Transport revealed the planned investment on the A14 – a key artery into Suffolk – had been “postponed” indefinitely.

The project, which would have seen a boost in safety and a cut in journey times for A14 motorists in the area, was just one of a raft of Government schemes to bite the dust earlier this year.

It is now understood that a bid for alternative funding is being looked at by the Department for Transport.

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A spokeswoman for the department said: “We recognise that this corridor faces severe congestion, and that mobility along the route is critical for economic success and growth.

“However, the current scheme is simply unaffordable under any reasonable future funding scenario. The department is therefore withdrawing the current scheme. We will undertake a study to identify cost effective and practical proposals which bring benefits and relieve congestion – looking across modes to ensure we develop sustainable proposals.

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“This approach will also provide an opportunity for the private sector to play its part in developing schemes to tackle existing problems in the corridor.”

John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “As things stand there is no end in sight for the thousands of commuters, businesses and residents that are subjected to the unpredictable misery the A14 inflicts on an all-too regular basis – so any glimmer of hope will be largely welcomed.

“Businesses in our region have been let down by the Government.

“Effective and efficient movement of goods and services along this route is dependent on investment. Economic growth for businesses in our region is dependent on investment.

“Wherever that investment comes from, let’s hope it’s not long before we can all stop wasting precious time and get on with executing real solutions to our inadequate infrastructure.”

In October last year, those behind the scheme told how the �1.1bn scheme would generate benefits from Felixstowe to the Midlands.

At the time, Tim Hughes, senior project manager for the Highways Agency, said: “The A14 is a heavily used trunk road of national and regional importance providing a major link between the Port of Felixstowe and the Midlands.”

Under the plans, the A14 would have been upgraded with three lanes in each direction along most of the stretch between Ellington and Fen Ditton.

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