Progress at last on vital east west artery?
The RAC Foundation has broadly welcomed the DfT's decision to take forward the A14 enhancement scheme while considering alternative ways to fund it.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said:
“Today’s announcement is significant. Ministers have gone further than before by opening the possibility for tolling existing roads and not just brand new capacity – in this case a widened section of the A14, a critical international trade route.
"Faced with the necessity to generate new funds for infrastructure this news demonstrates that government is being innovative in its thinking. We would hope that work on enhancing the A14 starts sooner rather than later and certainly before 2018.”
Earlier this year the RAC Foundation took part in the A14 Challenge to help kick-start the project.
DFT announcement in full:
The Government today announced proposals for major investment along the A14 corridor in Cambridgeshire.
A major new road scheme involving tolling will be added to the Department for Transport’s programme of major projects. Subject to agreement with interested local authorities on a funding package and decisions at the next Spending Review construction work could begin by 2018.
The plans are designed to address congestion and long term capacity issues on and around the strategically crucial A14.
They include a new bypass to replace the existing road around Huntingdon and upgrades along the A14 as far east as Milton. Two new roads would be built in parallel to, with one on each side of, the current A14 immediately north of Cambridge for local use. Meanwhile, the existing A14 carriageway will be upgraded through the removal of accesses and junctions, and improvements to junctions at the northern and southern ends.
Study work has confirmed that funding for these can be generated in part through tolling a length of the enhanced A14, featuring around 20 miles of new or widened road. However, more work will be taken to determine the best tolling solution, including what length the tolled section should be, how users would pay and what the tariff should be.
The schemes will now enter the DfT roads programme and begin detailed design and statutory processes. They are dependent on local government and commercial decision making and will now be considered in more detail by the relevant local authorities and local enterprise partnerships.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening said:
“The A14 is a crucial strategic route for the east of England, vital not only for international road traffic using the port of Felixstowe but everyone who relies on it daily.
“This is why my department has been working hard to generate innovative and imaginative solutions to tackling long term congestion and I am pleased to be able to unveil what we believe to be the best option for people living locally as well as those who see it as a lifeline to international markets.
“It demonstrates yet again that this coalition government is focused on delivering economic growth and our determination to do everything we can to support delivery of key national infrastructure.”
The A14 road improvement package includes:
- Widening of the Cambridge Northern Bypass between Milton and Girton and enhancement of the Girton Interchange;
- Provision of high standard roads for local traffic use running in parallel to an enhanced A14 carriageway between Girton and the area near the current Trinity Foot A14 junction;
- Construction of a bypass to the south of Huntingdon between the area near Trinity Foot and the A1, at both ends tying in with the existing A14.
A major road scheme between Ellington and Fen Ditton was cancelled in 2010 on affordability grounds. Since then the DfT has been working with local authorities and businesses through the A14 Challenge on alternatives to the previous scheme. Today’s announcement is the outcome of this work.
The government has also identified a package of desirable rail investment that will include major improvements at Ely, Peterborough and Leicester, which will enable more freight to be carried by rail between Felixstowe and Nuneaton. The Secretary of State has allocated £200m to the Strategic Freight Network to fund network enhancements of this kind at the request of the rail freight industry.
Notes to Editors
- Also announced today is government support for a package of local public transport improvements which could include:
- Commercial express bus services between Peterborough and Cambridge;
- A new park & ride site at Alconbury;
- Park & ride bus services to Cambridge via the Busway;
- A new ‘Number 5’ local bus service from Bar Hill to Cambridge via Science Park and Cambridge Science Park station.