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Julian Huppert MP

A14 safety package could cut death toll now

January 5, 2010 1:42 PM
Sian Reid

Sian Reid

Cambridge City Council is questioning how many more people need to die on the notorious A14 when a comprehensive package of safety and transport improvements could save lives and improve journey times now.

Sian Reid, Executive Councillor for Climate Change and Growth is shocked that the cost of the road widening has escalated from less than £200 million to £1.3 billion, yet transport bosses are still not considering better value approaches.

She echoes MP David Howarth's view that "Labour's plan puts the interest of the road haulage industry first and puts safety, climate change and Cambridge last."

"Widening the A14 will pour cars into Cambridge," said Cllr Reid. "Traffic is already forecast to increase dramatically on Cambridge's northern radial routes - especially on Ditton Lane, Histon Road, Milton Road and Huntingdon Road. The A14 widening will make matters worse, bringing almost 6,000 more cars in to the city every day along these routes.

"For people living near the A14 the noise and pollution will be intolerable. The city's economy will suffer as increased congestion brings yet more delay for bus and car commuters, and turns away business.

"Carbon emissions will go up by at least three per cent, without even counting the carbon used in building the road.

"This approach, from a government which wants us to believe that it is committed to the Cambridge economy and to cutting carbon emissions can't be right.

"The answer to saving lives and dealing with the congestion on the A14, lies with getting on with putting improvements in place now. "

A package of safety improvements, costing only a fraction of the cost of the road widening, could include

• bringing the A14 junctions, lay-bys and service stations up to motorway standard;

• introducing mandatory variable speed limits, which are reducing accidents and congestion on the M25;

• a free rescue service so broken vehicles are towed away in 20 minutes.

"Most of all, the railway network needs serious investment to draw lorries off the road onto rail," added Cllr Reid. "A Swiss-style lorry charging system would move freight onto rail and away from the rush hour.

"Money needs to be spent on better public transport into and across the city and local rail improvements."

Cllr Reid said that it is time the Highways Agency woke up to the fact that, with mounting national debt, taxpayers cannot afford this road. Drivers need action now to improve safety and congestion and the Cambridge sub region needs serious investment in sustainable transport for accessing the city.

"The time has come to stop speculating about when and if this road will be built and take action now to address the real issues," she said.

Residents and organisations wishing to express their views on the A14 plan should contact the Highways Agency by tomorrow (Wednesday, January 6)