News that Government is to invest millions of pounds into creating a dualled expressway from Cambridge to Bedford and on to Milton Keynes has been welcomed by Cambridgeshire council chiefs.
The announcement was made today (December 1) by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.
It includes dualling of the remaining stretch of single carriageway section of the A428 between Caxton Gibbet west of Cambridge and the M1, including a grade separated junction at the A1 Black Cat roundabout.
Government's vision is for the A428 is to create a continuous "˜expressway' from Cambridge to Bedford and Milton Keynes, enabling some the fastest-growing towns and cities to work together in support of continued growth. A new strategic study will also look at the case for extending this expressway from Milton Keynes onto Oxford.
Improvements to this route have been long campaigned for by Cambridgeshire councillors and MPs as well as the newly formed A428/A421 Alliance led by MP Jonathan Djanogly. This includes partners from across the whole route, including Milton Keynes, Bedford and the Cambridgeshire authorities.
Partners lobbied Government to make improvement to this vital route as:
- Some 25,000 homes are planned between Cambridge, Bedford and Milton Keynes, up to 10,000 of which are planned in Cambridgeshire.
- There are real capacity constraints with some 18,000 vehicles on average using the single carriageway section rising to 25,000 on the dual carriageway between the A1198 at Caxton and the A1303 at Madingley
- The Caxton Gibbet to St Neots' Black Cat roundabout, regularly experience severe traffic delays and rat running through neighbouring towns and villages.
- Without comprehensive improvements soon, this route could become a real barrier to the future growth and prosperity of the area
The proposed improvements are expected to make a real difference to this area; enhancing east-west links, particularly between some of the fastest growing towns and cities, should provide a real boost to the economic prosperity of the area, enabling it to continue to thrive as a key part of the UK's economic powerhouse.
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Chair of the Economy and Environment Committee, said: "This is great news and follows years of campaigning. The A428 is vital for the local and national economy and is a major link from Cambridge out to Bedford and on to Milton Keynes and Oxford. Many motorists already know how busy the A428 is in Cambridgeshire and how it can grind to a halt when the A14 is regularly blocked. Cambridgeshire competes on the global stage and is a world beater in many fields, vital to the continued success of the national economy. If the County is to continue supporting the national economy and growth then it needs world beating transport links. This expressway will help deliver that and we are also pleased not only with the improvements in Cambridgeshire but the commitment to look at extending it from Milton Keynes to Oxford.
"I want to thank MP Jonathan Djanogly, our partners and members of the A428/ A421 Alliance for their hardwork in campaigning for these improvements and I am sure we will continue to do so until they are built."
Councillor Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council's cabinet member with responsibility for transport, said: "Anyone who travels on the A428 will tell you how vital the upgrade to the single carriageway section of the road is. Constant tailbacks are an ongoing frustration, but more importantly the safety will be improved for South Cambridgeshire communities trying to access the road. We are fully committed to continuing to work with our partners in the alliance to press for action and welcome with open arms the news that the government is listening to us."
Councillor Jason Ablewhite, Huntingdonshire District Council's Executive Leader, said: "I welcome today's announcement from Central Government relating to strategic improvements to the transport network across Huntingdonshire. I am delighted to see that an upgrade of the long-awaited A428 improvements between Caxton Gibbet and the A1, including Black Cat roundabout and an investigation of an improved link between Milton Keynes and Oxford, has been announced. Improvements to this route will significantly benefit the local economy and residents of Huntingdonshire and we will also work tirelessly with partners and the A428 Alliance on this project, in addition to our A14 commitments, to seek the earliest possible delivery of this much-needed improvement. This is a most encouraging day for Huntingdonshire, and we must all seize the opportunities that this brings for all of us to unlock growth and work together to achieve all that has been announced.
"I am also extremely encouraged to see that the status of the A1 between Peterborough and the M25 is to be looked at in some detail. Since the M1 to Leeds and then the A1 north of that has been seen as the strategic route to the North, we have felt that the A1 through Huntingdonshire has become something of a "˜forgotten route'. The need for improvements is no more acute than at Buckden roundabout where our own Infrastructure Study has shown that it is a significant constraint to growth as well as the road being a blight on the residents of Buckden. The possibility of the route being upgraded to motorway standard is a very welcome and interesting development and like the A14 and A428 proposals, I will seek to ensure that Huntingdonshire is well represented in taking this work forward."