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Work starts on £1billion project to dual A428 as ground breaking ceremony is held

Work has started on the UK’s most expensive road project under construction, transforming a key route connecting Cambridge and Milton Keynes.

National Highways’ £1 billion upgrade of the A428 involves building a new 10-mile dual carriageway between the Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire and the Caxton Gibbet roundabout in Cambridgeshire to reduce congestion and boost safety.

Ground breaking ceremony takes place for the A428 project, with South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne
Ground breaking ceremony takes place for the A428 project, with South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne

Drivers using the existing road often suffer delays, especially in rush hour, and have a lack of alternative routes.

National Highways estimates the upgrade scheme will cut journey times by more than a third at peak times, saving drivers up to 10 minutes.

The number of vehicles using the road each day is expected to rise from around 25,300 to 32,900 by 2040 due to new housing and jobs.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “I’m delighted we have marked the start of works on the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet project, a huge investment by the Government to grow the economy in the region and reduce congestion for drivers.

“This Government is backing drivers by investing in much-needed road projects like this, using savings from HS2 to resurface roads across the country and introducing a long-term Plan for Drivers to slam the brakes on anti-car measures.”

Much of the new dual carriageway will run through the South Cambridgeshire constituency of transport minister Anthony Browne, who marked the start of construction by breaking ground on the project on Tuesday (December 11).

He said: “Alongside other local MPs I have fought for this scheme and I’m delighted to personally see it finally off the ground. This is not just an infrastructure project; it’s

a transformative commitment to enhancing the lives of people in South Cambridgeshire, St Neots, and beyond.

“While this will mean lower journey times, less congestion, and cleaner air from St Neots to Cambourne, it also signifies our dedication to creating a more connected, safer, and sustainable future for our area. I’m proud to be delivering on that for our residents.”

Construction was due to begin in late 2022, but was delayed by sustainable transport campaign group Transport Action Network seeking permission to apply for a judicial review of Mr Harper’s decision to approve the scheme, over concerns about how climate change and nature were considered.

The Court of Appeal refused the application in May.

The Welsh Government scrapped all major road building projects over environmental concerns in February.

But Mr Browne, whose ministerial responsibilities include transport decarbonisation, said it is important for schemes to continue as long as they involve construction methods that are “as carbon neutral as possible”, such as using equipment powered by electricity rather than diesel.

He went on: “There’s a broader question about cars.

“Yes, we’re still going to carry on driving in this country.

“We are moving to net zero cars.”

At least 22 per cent of new cars sold by each manufacturer in the UK next year must have no tailpipe emissions – which generally means they are pure electric – under the Government’s zero-emission vehicles mandate.

The threshold will rise each year until it reaches 100 per cent by 2035.

National Highways executive director for major projects Nicola Bell said the start of construction on the A428 project was “a momentous occasion”.

She went on: “As we break ground today, we embark on a journey that will transform transport in this region, easing congestion, improving connectivity and fostering economic growth.

“This project highlights National Highways’ commitment to delivering major projects that make lasting impacts for people, communities, and businesses.

“The start of construction represents a culmination of meticulous planning, collaborative efforts and a steadfast commitment to enhancing the nation’s infrastructure.

“We are proud to be part of a project that will lay the foundations for a more resilient and connected future.”

The scheme is expected to open to traffic in 2027.

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