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UK’s Biggest Road Project to Open in Spring

This spring will see the opening of a key section of the Highways England’s biggest road project – the A14 bypass from Cambridge to Huntingdon – which is part of the Strategic Road Network Scheme.

Highways England announced on 6th February 2020 that the bypass south of Huntingdon will open six months ahead of schedule in the spring of 2020 although an exact date has not been given.

The Swavesey Junction features an innovative pedestrian and cycle bridge which will form part of numerous routes for walkers, horse riders and cyclists along the 21-mile stretch.

The spring opening will herald the end of ongoing roadworks and reduced speed limits on the A1307 and the new A14.

However, the project team are still required to conduct several completion tasks, such as work to the verges, landscaping, and overseeing the installation of updated technology. Some temporary overnight closures will be necessary as an insurance policy to ensure that this work can be carried out safely.

Work began on the project in November 2016 and has employed approximately 13,000 people. There have been as many as 2,500 workers on-site at the peak of the project to provide an early opening for traffic on the improved A14.

The scheme cost an estimated £1.2 billion intending to improve the traffic between the Midlands and the East of England. It is predicted to reduce journey times between Cambridge and Huntingdon by approximately 20 minutes.

The existing A14 is a particularly important road for the motor trade, used daily by over 85,000 drivers, including over 20,000 hauliers who transport vital products around the country.

The fact that this scheme has been delivered on budget and ahead of schedule is a testament to the capabilities of the UK construction industry.

The A14 project has set a new benchmark for safety and environmental standards with many innovative measures such as:

  • Using over 10 million cubic metres of locally sourced earth to construct the road and transporting it via haul roads to minimise disruption along the route.
  • Constructing bridges and components at the side of the road before installation to reduce the number of road closures.
  • Only using renewable electricity and non-potable water during the entire project.
  • Experimenting with new technology including a self-driving dump truck and a robot used to paint road markings to minimise the risks to human road workers.
  • Reducing the environmental impact of the project by planting two trees or shrubs for each one removed and creating a new, connected habitat for wildlife over a hectare in size.
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This new road is seen by many as more than a piece of national infrastructure – it is expected to bring many economic benefits to the region, as well as local towns and communities.

Access to North Sea ports and the West Midlands will be improved and will benefit all types of business, from sellers of new and used cars to overseas importers.