Following years of inadequate infrastructure, the UK economy is set to benefit from vastly improved road connectivity, according to leading business organisation the Freight Transport Association (FTA), thanks to two new schemes – the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway and the proposed reclassification of an A14 section to a motorway. However, FTA, which represents more than 17,000 logistics business nationwide, is concerned that further investment is desperately needed to keep Britain’s roads moving.
Following the confirmation of the upgraded corridor of the new Oxford-Cambridge Expressway by Jesse Norman MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, journeys between the two cities are expected to reduce by up to 40 minutes.
Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Management Policy at FTA, explains this should be the starting point for a full programme of upgrades across the strategic road network: “For too long, poor road connectivity in the heart of England has impacted businesses and slowed economic growth. The Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, which connects two vital trading areas, will provide faster and easier journeys for commercial vehicle operators and other road users, unlocking the potential for new business opportunities and jobs.”
Highways England has also proposed the section of the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme between Ellington and Girton be upgraded to a motorway.
Bingham continues: “While FTA welcomed the £1.5 billion improvement scheme in 2016, it voiced its recommendation that the Cambridge to Huntingdon stretch be reclassified to a motorway. The stretch represents an important strategic link for freight transport, connecting the ports in East Anglia with the Midlands and the rest of England, and its declassification to a motorway will help keep traffic flowing and goods moving.
“While the government is planning to upgrade several of the UK’s roads, from the dualling of the A303 and A30 in the south to the creation of a Lower Thames Crossing to the east of London, the importance of a strong, resilient road network to economic prosperity must not be underestimated. Further infrastructure investment is desperately needed to provide a well-connected, safe, reliable and efficient road network nationwide.”
A change of designation will also apply to the A1 from Alconbury to Brampton. Highways England is due to submit the application for this work in winter 2018 and expects to receive a decision in the second half of 2019.