Support has been received from across East Anglia after it was announced today (28 November) that work on one of Britain’s biggest road upgrades is officially underway.
The news came as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling visited the major improvement scheme on the A14 in Cambridgeshire to formally mark the start of main construction.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling marks the start of construction work on the A14 with Highways England’s Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England staff and graduates, and local partners.
Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England Chief Executive, said: “The A14 is one of the most important east to west road links in the country, connecting businesses, communities and families. These vital improvements have been highly anticipated, and it is great to be able to start main construction today.
“We have worked very hard to get the project to this stage and I would like to thank all our local partners who have supported us and worked with us to get this far.
“I want the A14 to redefine what a road scheme can achieve and, in addition to a significantly upgraded road, I am determined that our work here will leave behind a positive legacy for people living along the A14 – providing better, safer journeys, setting hundreds of young people off on fulfilling careers in construction, and boosting the capacity of the whole country to deliver world leading infrastructure improvements.”
Neil Darwin, Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP Chief Executive, said: “The upgrade of the A14 between Girton and Huntingdon is critical to the continued success of our local economy, and will have a far wider positive economic impact across the East and beyond. It was our number one priority as a LEP when we were formed, and we are delighted to see work getting underway in earnest on the upgrade.
“As the single largest local contributor to the scheme, investing £50 million towards the upgrade, we are delivering on our commitment to business to tackle this significant barrier to growth. We have also laid the groundwork to ensure local people can gain the skills they need to access the jobs that will be created by this development by investing in a new Highways Academy at WATA. We look forward to the completion of this project in a timely manner.”
Steve Count, Cambridgeshire County Council Leader, said: “I am glad to see work starting on the A14, this scheme will help keep Cambridgeshire moving and more importantly improve road safety. Anybody who has been stuck in a queue on the A14 knows how vital it is for these improvements to be delivered. This is a major national and international route and it needs to be reliable, safe and congestion free otherwise we risk our economy coming to a grinding halt. We have campaigned long and hard for this and contributed considerable funds towards this scheme. This arterial road is not only vital for the local economy but also a lifeline for the UK as well and simply needs delivering as early as possible.”
John Bridge, Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce Chief Executive, said: “The A14 has for many years been identified as the biggest business barrier to growth and economic development. There is much jubilation that the required substantial investment has finally been provided to allow this much needed major infrastructure scheme to become a reality.
“The significant economic benefit is going to be realised locally, regionally and nationally, and will enable Cambridgeshire in particular to grow and provide the much-needed added value to UK plc.
“The lack of negative publicity given to Cambridgeshire on the national traffic reports every day will, in particular, be most welcome!”
Paul Kitson, Head of Northstowe at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), said: “The A14 upgrade is intrinsically linked to Cambridgeshire’s new town, Northstowe, providing a vital upgrade to service the new town as it grows. There are homes already coming out of the ground and the HCA is gearing up ready to start construction of the link road from the A14 to the new town centre and preparing to build more homes and facilities, so this critical work on the A14 is very much welcomed.”
Jackie Hall, Interim Chief Executive for West Anglia Training Association (WATA) in Huntingdon, said: “The A14 development will attract over 2,000 jobs across the lifetime of the project. WATA, with its contextualised Highway Academy based at its site in Huntingdon, is working in partnership with key partners and contractors to ensure the right people with the right skills are available at each stage of the project. The A14 project will bring job and sustained economic growth to the region through the development of skills workers for the lifetime of the project and beyond.”
The £1.5bn project will upgrade 21 miles of the A14 to three lanes in each direction adding additional capacity, boosting the local and national economy and cutting up to 20 minutes off journeys.
The project will include a major new bypass for Huntingdon, widening the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury, widening the existing A14 between Swavesey and Milton and improving the junctions at Bar Hill, Swavesey, Girton, Histon and Milton.
The new bypass and widened A14 will open to traffic by the end of 2020, although some finishing work such as the removal of the A14 viaduct in Huntingdon will continue beyond that.