A14 to return to 70mph as Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade opens ahead of schedule
The new Cambridge to Huntingdon A14 opened today (Tuesday, May 5), eight month ahead of schedule.
Highways England said the last of the 24/7 roadworks had been removed and the new lanes were opened to traffic.
The announcement marks the second opening of the project - the new Huntingdon bypass opened in December.
Work will continue on some parts of the scheme - a viaduct on the old A14 at Huntingdon is being removed - until 2022. Other work, including landscaping as well as cycle, horse riding and pedestrian paths, will also continue and will mean overnight road closures are not at an end just yet.
The speed limit on the A14 will also return to 70mph.
Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “This upgrade is a key addition to our national infrastructure, better linking the North of England and the Midlands to the East of England and to the Haven ports. It also brings economic benefits to the wider region and local towns and communities.
“Being able to open it more than six months early and on budget shows what the UK construction industry can achieve with an integrated client team, common goals and targets, and a shared vision of success.
“I would like to thank everyone across Highways England and our supply chain for their contribution to this project as well as road users, residents and stakeholders for their patience and support during the work.”
Roads Minister Baroness Vere added: “Our roads are more important than ever as we work to keep Britain moving, and I’m delighted that this key stretch of road will benefit drivers even sooner than planned.
“The upgrade will deliver faster, easier journeys for those travelling between Cambridge and Huntingdon, and will also improve links to the UK’s largest container port at Felixstowe - further bolstering our efforts to move goods around the UK at this critical time.”
However, the real test for the £1.5bn scheme will be when lockdown ends and traffic levels increase. There had been concern that the new Swavesey junction was unable to cope with peak-time flows, leaving local commuters in long queues while through traffic gets the full benefit of the work.
Highways England says the A14 work will shave up to 20 minutes off journeys, while commuters have told the Cambridge Independent of 40-50 minute queues at Swavesey prior to the opening of all the new lanes.
The upgraded road was originally planned to open to traffic by December 2020.