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18 July 2012, 12:23
Plans to upgrade the A14 in Cambridgeshire, including road tolling, have been added to the government's list of major projects.
The Department for Transport said funding for the improvements could be generated in part through tolling a length of the enhanced A14, featuring 20 miles of new or widened road.
However it added that more work would be done "to determine the best tolling solution, including what length the tolled section should be, how users would pay and what the tariff should be''.
The project includes the widening of the Cambridge Northern bypass between Milton and Girton and enhancement of the Girton interchange.
It also includes the provision of high-standard roads for local traffic use running in parallel to an enhanced A14 carriageway between Girton and the area near the current Trinity Foot A14 junction.
It will also see the construction of a bypass to the south of Huntingdon between the area near Trinity Foot and the A1, at both ends tying in with the existing A14.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: "The A14 is a crucial strategic route for the east of England, vital not only for international road traffic using the port of Felixstowe but everyone who relies on it daily."
This is why my department has been working hard to generate innovative and imaginative solutions to tackling long-term congestion and I am pleased to be able to unveil what we believe to be the best option for people living locally as well as those who see it as a lifeline to international markets."
Cambridge MP Julian Huppert told Heart he "welcomes" the decision but is "worried that tolling would push traffic into surrounding towns and villages."
Dr Huppert added: "I think it could be extremely damaging if you turn many side roads into effectively parts of the A14, with all the congestion that that implies, particularly if a lot of heavy vehicle goods vehicles end up doing that.
I think there is a lot we need to do to understand whether tolls would mean that people would go off the main road and onto side roads through towns and villages, and what effect that would have."
Cambridgeshire County Council Leader Nick Clarke, said: "We have campaigned tirelessly for the scheme and, with local councils, the LEP and local MPs we persuaded Government to set up the A14 challenge.
The announcement today about the major scheme that has resulted from that work is fantastic news for our area and the country as a whole: it will unlock the improvements so desperately needed for this congestion-blighted road and help deliver major improvements to its poor safety record.
The A14 is one of the most important roads in the country, providing a key link with the east coast ports.
It is also vital for the Cambridgeshire economy that has unrivalled potential to grow and create jobs if the right infrastructure is provided.
We will continue to work closely with Government and keep up the pressure now to see these improvements delivered on the ground.
The next steps will be to refine the proposals that have been announced today and move those as quickly as possible to a point where they can be built and opened."
South Cambridgeshire MP Andrew Lansley said: “Simply put, this is a great victory for Cambridgeshire.
Together with the Cambridgeshire County Council and other local authorities and partners, this is an issue I have been working extremely hard on behalf of my constituents, and I am delighted that the Government has made such a commitment today.
The A14 is strategically crucial to our region and the country, yet for too long has been slowed and blocked by serious congestion.
The impact of this on regional villages in my constituency has been awful.
We will now finally get a route which works for long-distance traffic and which offers good local roads for local access.
This represents a real step forward in boosting business and investor confidence across the region.”
The Government also announced a package of desirable rail investment that will include major improvements at Ely, Peterborough and Leicester, and which will enable more freight to be carried by rail between Felixstowe and Nuneaton.