The Cambridge sub-region is one of the fastest growing areas in the whole of the UK in terms of economy and population. Between 2011 and 2031 population growth is expected to reach 24%, leading to an expected 23% increase in jobs. The existing A14 trunk road is well known for congestion and delays. In 2014, 71,000 vehicles used the A14 between Swavesey and Bar Hill every day. That figure has now risen to 85,000 vehicles per day, well above the road’s original design capacity.
The A14 is a major freight route running from the port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, providing a vital east-west corridor between the Midlands and East Anglia and joins north south routes via the A1(M) and M11 motorways in addition to its role as an important local commuter route. With traffic demand in the East of England predicted to increase by 26% between 2020 and 2035 as a result of both long distance freight traffic and localised population growth, proposals to improve capacity and connectivity in the Cambridge sub-region were essential to support economic growth and improve quality of life.
The project will upgrade 21 miles of the A14, adding additional capacity and cutting up to 20 minutes off journeys. It 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. There will also be improvements in Huntingdon town centre, including the demolition of the A14 viaduct and a new local access road.
Since the Government announced the go-ahead for the project in May 2016, Highways England has been carrying out advance work. This has included preparation of the construction compounds at Swavesey and Brampton, marking out the boundary fence line across the scheme, ecological, archaeological and ground investigation work. On November 28th 2016, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP, dug the first spade of earth in a traditional ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of the £1.5 billion scheme. Local MPs Heidi Allen and Daniel Zeichner joined the Secretary of State for the ceremony which took place at the project’s Swavesey compound. The project is expected to take four years to complete and is one of Britain’s biggest roadbuilding projects. Commenting Heidi said, ‘This has been a long time coming, so today is a very important day for our region. This project will not only bring economic benefits, but also improvements to people’s quality of life.’
Since 2017, work has been continuing apace and completion of the work is planned before the end of 2020.
In September 2018, the Department for Transport announced that it would be asking the Planning Inspectorate to re-classify a 18 mile stretch of the A14 as motorway, once the upgrade work is complete. The A14 motorway plans will provide an unbroken motorway link between London and Peterborough, with variable speed limits to reduce congestion.