Britain’s biggest road project set to open in the spring

Britain’s biggest road improvement project set for spring opening

Britain’s biggest road improvement scheme - the A14 - is set to open in the spring, months earlier than originally planned. 

The £1.5 billion scheme to improve the route which connects the East of England and the Midlands was originally planned to open to traffic at the end of 2020.

The A14 is a vital freight route used by more than 21,000 hauliers daily transporting essential goods around the country.

The news follows the recent December opening of a part of the 21-mile scheme – a new 12-mile bypass south of Huntingdon – 12 months ahead of schedule. 

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “I’m delighted that the A14 upgrade will open ahead of schedule, not only meaning drivers will benefit from quicker and safer journeys sooner, but also ensuring that key access between the region’s ports and the West Midlands will be boosted.

"Investing in key transport links such as this is part of this Government’s plan to level up access across the country, ensuring all regions are better connected and improving journeys for all."

Work on the project began in November 2016. Besides the Huntingdon southern bypass, the project includes an upgrade to the A14 between Swavesey and Milton, and a new local access road, the A1307, which runs parallel to it between Cambridge and Godmanchester.

The spring opening date will mark the end of permanent roadworks and reduced speed limits on the new A14 and the A1307, but the project team will still need to carry out a number of completion activities such as landscaping, installing some of the new technology, and work in the verges. To carry out this work safely, some temporary overnight closures or off-peak daytime lane closures will be needed.

The A14 transformation complements other improvements Highways England is delivering along this corridor, which is a key link between East Anglia, the UK’s busiest container port at Felixstowe, and the Midlands. In 2017 a £191 million improvement of the Catthorpe interchange, where the A14 meets the M1 motorway, was completed.

Later this year Highways England expects to seek planning consent for proposals for a new dual carriageway A428 between Caxton Gibbet and the Black Cat junction with the A1 in Bedfordshire, and spend £300 million improving three junctions and upgrading three stretches of the A47 to dual carriageway between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth.

There are further plans to add a third lane to the A12 between Chelmsford and the A120, and a multi-billion pound new Lower Thames Crossing to alleviate pressure on the Dartford Crossing, with the latest consultation into this now underway.

Following the opening of the Huntingdon southern bypass, work began to dismantle the old A14 railway viaduct at Huntingdon, and new link roads are being built into the town. This work started in late 2019 and on target to be completed by 2022.

The old A14, now known as the A1307 east of Huntingdon and along the Alconbury spur, and A141 west of Huntingdon, will be handed over to Cambridgeshire County Council once the project is completed. It will be used as a local access road running parallel to the A14 and serving the surrounding communities.