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Cheaper ways to beat A14 congestion

Sian Berry's picture

2 February: Our response to the DfT’s 'A14 Challenge' shows how congestion could be solved for one third of the cost of a huge widening project.

The challenge was launched in December to find ways to improve traffic conditions on the A14 after the Government rejected the Highways Agency’s £1.3bn plan to widen the road between Ellington and Fen Ditton in 2010. The DfT has cast the net wide looking for ideas to reducing congestion on this busy A-road, and our proposal shows how a range of smaller plans could make more difference - for much less expense - than the previous plans.

Dumbell graphic from roads planning briefingKey to our proposals is the principle of 'corridor planning' – the understanding that congestion on a trunk road is not due solely to cars travelling from A to B along that road, but the result of many different longer and shorter journeys adding to the total weight of traffic.

The picture on the left of this diagram from our roads planning briefing, shows the way many people assume travel on a main road works, with most trips simply running from A to B. But the picture on the right is more accurate: there are some trips passing right along the road but also plenty of shorter journeys which only use it for a short part of their journey.

If we only think about A to B journeys, ways of beating congestion will appear very limited and road-widening may seem like the only option. But if we focus attention on the shorter trips adding to congestion at either end, a range of more imaginative measures will be available.

That’s what we’ve looked for in making our response, taking ideas from a wide range of local campaigners and politicians, as well as our sister campaign Freight on Rail. We’ve come up with 14 costed proposals for the A14 corridor up to 2019, as well as five longer term proposals, which we believe will make a real impact on congestion on the road.

Rather than focussing on a massive widening project which would quickly fill up again, we can cut congestion permanently by reducing the need to travel, improving local public transport and creating new options for freight and people to travel longer distances. And our plans would also be far cheaper than the huge widening project – adding up to around £450 million.

Read our response document here

The images reproduced below from the A14 Study document show clearly that the situation on the A14 around Huntingdon and Cambridge fits the ‘corridor planning’ model, with the highest congestion near the town centres in the morning and afternoon peaks, so we think that this stretch of road is likely to be highly susceptible to the benefits our measures will bring.

And as for paying for the original plans by turning an expanded A14 into a toll road? The people who are suggesting this should have a look at Becca’s recent blog on the M6 Toll motorway, which has again announced usage and financial figures that are worse than expected.

From SDG report for DfT - fig 4.5From SDG report for DfT - fig 4.6

The full responses by Cambridgeshire Campaign for Better Transport and Freight on Rail can also be read via these links: