Long-awaited work starts on £1.5billion A14 upgrade
The long-awaited £1.5billion upgrade of the A14 was ceremonially started on Monday with a traditional sod-cutting by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
By the end of 2020 the project, which will have 1,800 people working on it at its peak, will see the A14 become three lanes wide in both directions between Brampton and Cambridge, and will also include upgrades of the A1 to Alconbury, aiming to cut 20 minutes off peak-time journeys.
The A14 has become a key freight route for HGVs arriving from ports on the east coast. Statistics from Felixstowe Port have determined that two million standard containers handled there every year travel onward up the A14.
The upgrade is designed to accommodate expected growth in traffic for up to 15 years after opening, by which time HGV use on the road is expected to have increased by 41 per cent.
South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen said the A14 upgrade was long overdue.
“People have been so frustrated,” she said. “It’s dangerous, economically it limits the area, and with the development we have now coming at Northstowe this is critical. Without this we can’t connect the large amount of housing growth that the area needs. We can’t connect that to the rest of the country, so it couldn’t have come a minute too soon, and it seems like the Government has finally ‘got’ this area.
“There were lots of great announcements in the Autumn Statement around money for rail and road links from Oxford, so this feels like the start of some serious money coming to the area.
“I think post-Brexit this part of the country has an even more important role in terms of economic contribution to the country, so this upgrade is great news.”
Mr Grayling told the Cambridge Independent: “I think this will make a big difference north of Cambridge.
“The challenge here is you’ve got a mix of very big and important through routes and very important local routes, and the result is serious congestion. This will ease that.”
Mr Grayling agreed that the Oxford to Cambridge expressway and railway line were also needed to support growth in the area, and added the Ely North Junction upgrade to the Cambridgeshire transport ‘to-do list’.
He said: “Certainly this project alone doesn’t do the job for Cambridge, this project helps transport in and around Cambridge but there is more to do.”