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Britain’s biggest road project opens to traffic eight months early

The £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon scheme is opening for traffic eight months ahead of schedule.

Building the new road took 14 million construction hours

Essential work on the upgrade has continued throughout the coronavirus outbreak, with new sections of road opened as quickly as possible, to ensure vital goods were able to travel through.

The 21-mile upgrade project has been delivered by joint venture main contractors Balfour Beatty, Costain and Skanska and is being hailed as a landmark for client-led integrated team working.

Yesterday Highways England confirmed the work has largely been completed, which means the permanent roadworks have been removed and the national 70mph speed limit has been restored. The upgraded road was originally planned to open to traffic by December 2020. Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “Being able to open it more than six months early and on budget shows what the UK construction industry can achieve with an integrated client team, common goals and targets, and a shared vision of success. “I would like to thank everyone across Highways England and our supply chain for their contribution to this project.” Work on the project began in November 2016. The project has employed over 14,000 people in total, with up to 2,500 working on site at peak. Building the new road took 14m construction hours – the equivalent of almost 1,600 years. A stretch of the 21-mile scheme – a new 12-mile bypass south of Huntingdon – was opened in December 2019. Further work in the road verges, including completing landscaping as well as cycle, horse riding and pedestrian paths, will continue.

To carry out the remaining work safely, some temporary overnight closures or off-peak daytime lane closures will be needed.

Work to transform the old A14 for local journeys in and around Huntingdon, including taking down the 45-year-old Huntingdon viaduct, is also continuing as planned and should be completed by 2022.

Work began to dismantle the 16,400 tonne A14 Huntingdon Railway Viaduct following the opening of the Huntingdon southern bypass, and more than half a mile of new link roads are being built into the town.

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Disclaimer: this article was not originally published by any of the Safer Highways Team.

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