As the new road begins to snake across the Cambridgeshire countryside, highways bosses are taking to other local roads – with a mobile exhibition
A mobile visitor centre has been launched to keep people up to date with progress on the major £1.5 billion A14 revamp scheme.
Highways England has converted a 3.5 tonne truck into a visitor centre, explaining the route of the new road, and focusing on how the scheme is progressing.
The vehicle starts its first outing tomorrow (Wednesday, March 15), parked up at Bar Hill Tesco, and in future weeks and months, it will visit dozens of other locations.
A spokeswoman for Highways England said: “The mobile visitor centre will help people plan their journeys, tell them about the scheme’s progress, and share possible job opportunities too, as well as share information on other topics of interest.
“Because the A14 scheme is over an extended geographical area, our team felt that being able to visit local communities along the route with information would benefit more people, rather than asking them to come to a static visitor centre.
“With this mobile centre, the team will aim to visit as many towns, villages, business premises, local events, libraries, community and support groups as possible over the next few years.
“We’re also happy to allow people organising events of their own to book the centre to come along, free of charge.”
The road-building project will upgrade 21 miles of the A14, and will include a major new bypass for Huntingdon and widening the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury.
The existing A14 between Swavesey and Milton will also be widened, and the junctions at Bar Hill, Swavesey, Girton, Histon and Milton will all be upgraded.
There will also be improvements in Huntingdon town centre, including demolishing the A14 viaduct and building a new local access road.
Since the Government announced the go-ahead for the project in May 2016, the project team at Highways England has been carrying out advance work. This has included constructing compounds at Swavesey and Brampton, and carrying out ecological, archaeological and groundwork checks.
Construction began about three months ago, and Mike Evans, strategic stakeholder manager for the transport agency, said the work was progressing well.
He said: “It’s the first time this kind of public engagement has been done, and we hope it will be helpful in keeping people informed about what’s happening, and also answer any questions people might have about it.
“Anyone who has an interest in the scheme is welcome and people will be able to see what we plan to do over the next four years.”
One question the officials are likely to face is the widespread removal of trees and hedges to make way for the new road.
Mr Evans said: “It’s true we’ve had to remove quite a bit of that, but it has to be done, and I would emphasise that after the road is built, we will actually replant more trees than there were before.”
He added that removal of trees and bushes had been timed so as not to disrupt nesting birds.
After its first outing at Tesco Bar Hill tomorrow (Wednesday March 15), the mobile centre will then visit several locations over the next few months, including:
• March 20, South Cambridge Council-Open Day
• March 28, Cambridgeshire County Council- Council Meeting
• April 22, Longstanton Village Event
• April 26, Wood green Animal Shelter – Huntingdon Business Fair
• May 3, Alconbury Memorial Hall – Open to public
• June 23, Cambridge Regional College- Construction Careers Day
• July 8, Alconbury Summer Fete.
Other dates will be announced later.