The green light has been given to proposals to upgrade the route between the A1 Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire and the A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabout in Cambridgeshire, entailing the creation of a new 10-mile dual carriageway linking the two. 

A development consent order has been granted by transport secretary Grant Shapps, thereby clearing the way for the project that is aimed at addressing one of the region’s most notorious congestion hotspots. 

What else is known about the scheme for which consent has been granted? 

According to National Highways, which put forward the plan, the upgrade work will involve both existing roundabouts being transformed into modern, free-flowing junctions, with a new junction added at Cambridge Road, in hopes of improving access to St Neots and its railway station. 

It is intended that the scheme will help improve journeys in the locality by filling in the missing link of dual carriageway on the strategic road network between Milton Keynes and Cambridge. It is thought that drivers could save as much as an hour and a half on their journeys every week as a result of the upgrade. 

What factors led the Secretary of State to make his decision? 

In reaching his decision to approve the plans, Mr Shapps concluded that the decarbonisation agenda was not a bar to new roads being built. 

Furthermore, while some of those responding to a public examination of the plans questioned whether there was a need for the road given plans for East West Rail, the transport secretary noted that “only a small proportion of the proposed development’s traffic would reassign to the East West Rail scheme”. 

Mr Shapps also agreed that there had been an identification of biodiversity measures, but that there was nonetheless a “minor increased risk of nitrogen pollution to Madingley slip road roadside verge”. 

“Good for businesses and jobs” 

National Highways described the announcement of the transport secretary’s approval as “a major milestone, not only for us, but also for the many local communities who have long campaigned for improvements, as well as our stakeholders who we’ve been working with for several years.” 

The government-owned company added that the upgrading of the route would be “good for businesses and jobs, will improve safety and make journeys more reliable.” 

Construction of the new dual carriageway and associated junction improvements is expected to begin by the end of 2022, with an anticipated road opening in 2026. 

Are you seeking out the expertise and experience of a transport planning and infrastructure design consultancy that you can trust to provide the complete service for your project, and perhaps looking to understand the implications of development of your site? If so, you are very welcome to enquire to the Transport Planning Associates team today for further information and guidance. We specialise in providing advice to its clients on the transport infrastructure and highway design requirements arising from the development of land and are skilled at assessing the highway capacity implications of development proposals, supporting Development Consent Order applications where appropriate.