A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme

Enquiry received via post

A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme

13 June 2014
Jeff Shaw

Enquiry

Whilst Ifully agree that the current A14 cannot manage the existing level of traffic let alone the projected increases in volume I fundamentally disagree with the traditional solution of building new roads at the expense of the environment and the quality of life for residents living in the area.
I believe that constructing a single route to funnel traffic through the area is making the
same mistake as that made when the current A14 was planned and constructed and is merely providing a patch for the problem to overcome the A14 bottleneck between Huntingdon and Cambridge and not a solution to the problem.
Whilst the new highway will have an additional SO% capacity it being a single route through the area will do little for the locality in alleviating congestion when the inevitable incidents occur, resulting in a continuance of the existing rat-running through our towns and villages.
Drivers will be 'stuck' in congestion on the new highway between the very limited number of junctions and as we know only too well from the experience of the current A14 the whole area will come to a halt as drivers trying to avoid the congestion seek alternative routes.
living in Hilton the impact of the A14 on village life has for some years been considerable. The current road effects movement in and out of the village on a daily basis with commuter traffic and HGV's passing through the village, often exceeding speed limits, in an effort to avoid the A14. When the inevitable incidents occur on the A14 Hilton, along with other neighbouring villages, becomes totally deadlocked by diverting traffic as few alternatives are available when the A14 is closed.
The Highways Agency proposal accepts that the impact of this development on Hilton village will be considerable. Engineering difficulties to overcome the high level of the water table
on the chosen route will result in the proposed highway being 2 metres above the current road level. The proposed mitigation to limit this impact includes earthwork banking and woodland planting of trees and shrubs however the visual impact of the construction of the road and bridges will result in a significant scar on our rural landscape.
In addition to the visual impact it is accepted by the Highways Agency that in Hilton air pollution will deteriorate along with increases in noise pollution, light pollution and vibration along with the disruption to village life caused by an increase in traffic passing through the village.
Considerable work is planned in the scheme to realign existing water courses and to
introduce water containment measures but the works will ultimately run to the existing drainage system, this in an area where the flooding problems are already well documented.
It is accepted that the current through traffic includes a much higher than normal number of heavy goods vehicles travelling to from Felixstowe Container Terminal.
Has due consideration been given to the impact on routes caused by the london Gateway Container Terminal?
The new terminal at london Gateway will compete with Felixstowe Container Terminal for business and clearly some current shipping using Felixstowe will opt to use london Gateway.
HGV's travelling to and from london Gateway from most areas of the UK will opt to use the M2S to access the motorway network. The only london Gateway traffic opting to use the M11/A14 route from the M2S would have destinations in East Anglia/lincolnshire.
The net result of this movement of current shipping from Felixstowe to london Gateway will be to REDUCE the HGV traffic using the A14 Felixstowe to M1J19 route!
It is essential to an acceptable quality of life for villagers in Hilton that all vehicles associated with any construction work be banned from travelling through the village at all times 24/7. This ban must be in place before any construction commences, be applicable to all vehicles above the size of a transit van and be enforced using number plate recognition technology with penalties issued for offenders, reimbursement being available for offenders able to prove access to Hilton village for deliveries etc.
The 24/7 HGV ban must be retained after construction and further traffic calming measures will be required on the 81040 at both ends of the village and midway through the village. Similar traffic calming measures will be required on the Hilton Road from Fenstanton before traffic enters the village and the existing calming measures on Graveley Way be enhanced, this to ensure rat-running through Hilton is made as inconvenient as possible for all traffic.
As an alternative to the construction of another new highway better surely to avoid again building a single through-route to funnel traffic and to consider introducing a more sophisticated solution offering alternative routes through the area that allow traffic to be directed using 'smart' signage.
The A428 has the capability of providing an alternative route to the M1if the dualing between Caxton Gibbett and St Neots is completed and a St Neots bypass is introduced to incorporate the troublesome Black Cat roundabout on the A1, this to give easier access onto the already completed A421 dual carriageway to the M1J13.
The same route would offer a viable alternative from Cambridge to the Midlands via the A1
to the Ellington Junction.
Retaining and improving the current A14, with a remodeled junction at Spittals involving flyover access north of Huntingdon Racecourse to the Ellington Junction would therefore offer routes that allow traffic to be directed based on the destination rather than funneling and in cases of incidents provide improved resilience for the network that allows credible diversions to be set-up and rat-running reduced.
The paranoia to remove the viaduct over the East Coast Mainline railway close to Huntingdon station is resulting in a farcical road construction as part of the proposal, taking traffic off the de-trunked A14, providing a route around the railway station and running, via a road to be constructed, between the Cambridgeshire Police headquarters and Hinchingbrooke Hospital, then returning onto the de-trunked A14.
The section of the de-trunked A14 to be removed either side of the viaduct is minimal and
the proposed route will cause considerable congestion at peak times, and in cases where incidents occur on the Huntingdon Southern Bypass will result in a bottleneck for traffic seeking an alternative route.
Better to retain the viaduct, replacing the bridge if deemed necessary and avoid building the Views Common Link.
The removal of the viaduct is strongly supported by Huntingdon District Council, could this be influenced by the fact that in de-trunking the existing A14 the financial responsibility for the upkeep of the bridge moves from the Highways Agency to the local authority and with the history of expenditure on the existing bridge this is a factor in the decision to remove?
Creating improvements to existing roads would provide viable routes to 'dilute' traffic rather than funneling in one direction and effectively passing the problem onto other geographical areas.
Finally when will we appreciate that the road network in the UK has exceeded its capacity and realise that the building of yet more roads does not address the long term problem. Freight should be moved by rail over all but local distances and whilst this would require Governmental support and investment in rail infrastructure private finance for this development would be available from rail franchisees if supported by legislation and extended franchise terms.

Advice given

Dear Mr Shaw
Thank you for your letter addressed to Sir Michael Pitt regarding the proposed Cambridge to Huntingdon A14 improvement scheme. It has been passed to me, as the case manager, to respond.
This proposal is currently at the pre-application stage. As you are aware, the Highways Agency is currently consulting with local communities and prescribed consultees on their proposal in accordance with the duties which the Planning Act 2008 (as amended) places upon them. I am unsure as to whether you have responded directly to the Highways Agency with your comments, as the Highways Agency will be under a duty to take account of relevant responses. The closing date for this consultation period is 15 June 2014. It is at the developer?s discretion whether to accept any representations after that date.
As your letter raises concerns with the consultation being carried out you may also wish to send a copy of your correspondence to the relevant local authority for this area. When the application is submitted to The Planning Inspectorate, local authority consultees will be invited to provide their comments on the adequacy of the developer?s consultation detailing whether the developer complied with their consultation duties in accordance with the Planning Act 2008. Following the submission of the application, a decision will be made within 28 days as to whether the application can be accepted for examination. In deciding whether or not to accept an application the Planning Inspectorate must, amongst other matters, have regard to any adequacy of consultation representation received by it from a local authority consultee.
If the developer is deemed to have adequately carried out their pre-application duties and the application is accepted for examination, there will be the opportunity to register your views with The Planning Inspectorate and participate in the examination by completing a relevant representation form. Details about how and when to register will be publicised by the developer. Please note that you are unable to register as an interested party during the current (pre-application) stage of the process for this proposal.
Further information about how to participate in the application process can be found in our advice notes. I have enclosed two advice notes which may be of particular interest.
If you have any further queries, please don?t hesitate to contact us.