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Thu April 02 2020

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Early finish for £1.5bn highway scheme

7 Feb Big construction projects more usually generate headlines for being late and over budget, but Britain’s biggest road project has finished early.

The River Great Ouse Viaduct was one of the biggest structures on the A145 improvement scheme
The River Great Ouse Viaduct was one of the biggest structures on the A145 improvement scheme

The £1.5bn A14 improvement scheme to improve journeys between the east of England and the Midlands was originally planned to open to traffic by the end of 2020.

Now Highways England plans to open it sometime this spring.

This follows the recent December opening of a part of the 21-mile scheme – a new 12-mile bypass south of Huntingdon – a whole year early.

The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme is being built by a joint venture of contractors Balfour Beatty, Costain and Skanska with design consultants Atkins and CH2M. Together they are known as the A14 Integrated Delivery Team.

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “The A14 is a vital route used by 85,000 drivers every day and including more than 21,000 hauliers transporting essential goods around the country.

 “Opening this scheme more than six months early and on budget shows what the UK construction industry can achieve working with Highways England on the strategic road network. I would like to thank them for their focus on our joint success and for their one team approach.”

The new Swavesey junction with its landmark pedestrian and cycle bridge
The new Swavesey junction with its landmark pedestrian and cycle bridge

Work on the project began in November 2016, and has employed around 13,000 people in total, with up to 2,500 working on site during the project’s peak.

Ten million tonnes of earth has been shifted for the project and 70 structures constructed.

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Julian Lamb, A14 deputy project director for Balfour Beatty and the joint venture delivery team, said:  “This early opening is testament to the collaborative and innovative teams working on this project. With a focus on delivering a safe and sustainable road network, our expertise and capabilities has allowed us to deliver this project safely and efficiently ahead of schedule.”

Skanska highways director Glennan Blackmore said:  “The A14 opening early is a fantastic testament to the one-team integrated project with the client and partners, Costain and Balfour Beatty. The delivery team’s collaborative approach is industry changing. With all partners truly integrating, it demonstrates the success that can be achieved.”

The new Girton junction leading to the A14 westbound (left)
The new Girton junction leading to the A14 westbound (left)

Costain highways director Richard Stuart said:  “Through collaboration, integrated working and visionary leadership, we have achieved a great outcome for Highways England’s customers by delivering the UK’s biggest road upgrade to budget and ahead of schedule… This has been an exemplar project and should set the model for other major infrastructure projects to follow and build on.”

Besides the Huntingdon southern bypass, the project includes an upgrade to the A14 between Swavesey and Milton, and a new local access road, the A1307, which runs parallel to it between Cambridge and Godmanchester.

Following the opening of the Huntingdon southern bypass, work began to dismantle the old A14 railway viaduct at Huntingdon, and new link roads are being built into the town. This work started in late 2019 and on target to be completed by 2022.

The Huntingdon  bypass opened a year early in December 2019
The Huntingdon bypass opened a year early in December 2019

Later this year Highways England expects to seek planning consent for proposals for a new dual carriageway A428 between Caxton Gibbet and the Black Cat junction with the A1 in Bedfordshire, and £300 million improving three junctions and upgrading three stretches of the A47 to dual carriageway between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth. There are further plans to add a third lane to the A12 between Chelmsford and the A120, and a multi-billion pound new Lower Thames Crossing to alleviate pressure on the Dartford Crossing, with the latest consultation into this now under way.

The new A1307 (centre), Girton interchange link (top) and A14 (left) near Cambridge
The new A1307 (centre), Girton interchange link (top) and A14 (left) near Cambridge

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