An upgraded stretch of the A14 motorway has been opened eight months early by Highways England.
The 21-mile section of road between Cambridge to Huntingdon was originally planned to open to traffic by December 2020 but the work has largely been completed, which means the permanent roadworks have been removed and the national 70mph speed limit has been restored.
The £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon scheme is designed strengthen links between the Midlands and the East of England, improving access to and from the UK’s largest container port at Felixstowe. It is also expected to reduce journey times by to 20 minutes on journeys.
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.”
Essential work on the upgrade has continued throughout the coronavirus outbreak. A number of measures were also put in place to ensure work was completed safely and in line with Public Health England’s advice.
Further work in the road verges, including completing landscaping as well as cycle, horse riding and pedestrian paths, will continue. To carry out the remaining work safely, some temporary overnight closures or off-peak daytime lane closures will be needed.
Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “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.”
Work to transform the old A14 for local journeys in and around Huntingdon, including taking down the 45-year-old Huntingdon viaduct, is also continuing as planned and should be completed by 2022. Work began to dismantle the 16,400 tonne A14 Huntingdon Railway Viaduct following the opening of the Huntingdon southern bypass, and more than half a mile of new link roads are being built into the town.
Work on the project began in November 2016. A stretch of the 21-mile scheme – a new 12-mile bypass south of Huntingdon – was opened in December 2019, a whole year early. Already, the bypass has been used to make almost 12 million journeys.
Besides the Huntingdon southern bypass, the project includes an upgrade to the A14 between Swavesey and Milton, and a new road for local communities, the A1307, which runs parallel to it between Cambridge and Godmanchester. Approximately 24 miles of new routes for cyclists, walkers and horse riders are also included in the scheme.
The A1307 east of Huntingdon and along the Alconbury spur, and part of the A141 west of Huntingdon, both of which use the path of the old A14, will be handed over to Cambridgeshire County Council once the project is completed.
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