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A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon

A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme

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Owl rescue highlights environmental commitment on Britain’s biggest roads project
July 10th, 2019

Owl rescue highlights environmental commitment on Britain’s biggest roads project

A14 worker Martin and Liz McQuilan from the Raptor Foundation sanctuary releasing the recovered barn owl

A14 worker Martin and Liz McQuilan from the Raptor Foundation sanctuary releasing the recovered barn owl

Rescuing an injured barn owl which swiftly recovered to fly back to safety recently is highlighting just how strongly the team working on Britain’s biggest roads project is committed to protecting the local environment.

Quick thinking by a member of the team delivering Highways England’s £1.5 billion upgrade to the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon has helped save an injured barn owl. It is part of the considerate approach being taken to the environment throughout the massive project, which includes creating new habitats such as hedgerows and wetlands and planting twice as many trees and shrubs as were taken down before the scheme started.

The barn owl was discovered by Martin Lefty, a machine operator who uses his excavator to move materials and soils. Martin noticed the injured bird when he got to work recently on a section of the new A14 near Brampton. Its leg was bruised and it could not fly, so Martin together with Duncan Healey, one of the environmental managers on the scheme, took their feathered friend to the Raptor Foundation near RAF Wyton.

They were rewarded a fortnight later with news of the nocturnal bird’s recovery and joined Raptor Foundation’s Liz McQuilan as they set the owl free near the site where they had found it.

Martin said: “Protecting and enhancing the environment is an important part of what we do while building the new A14, so when I saw the injured owl I knew I couldn’t just carry on with my day’s work – I had to ensure it was okay. It was great to see it make a full recovery, and to be a part of setting it free again.”

Barn owls aren’t the only protected species the A14 team is working to safeguard, with fellow creatures on the route including kestrels, otters, swifts, great crested newts, badgers, water voles, bats, butterflies, and many more.

Highways England takes its responsibility to the local environment around road improvement schemes very seriously. On the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement, the team has designed the project to reduce its impact on the surrounding landscape and wildlife and is aiming to have a positive impact on biodiversity once the scheme is complete. To achieve this, the team is protecting species along the route, building over one square mile of new habitat in 18 areas, planting approximately 900,000 trees and shrubs (more than twice as many as were felled before construction started), and reducing the environmental footprint of the scheme during construction.

Carol Hardingham, environmental lead for the A14 on behalf of Highways England, said:

“Building a new road changes the local environment around it, but it can also bring new opportunities to protect and enhance it. The countryside along the 21 miles of the A14 upgrade is mainly arable land, which can pose challenges to biodiversity and wildlife. The new road is making it possible to create connected corridors and new habitats for wildlife, as well as opportunities to provide new ground for some of the rare local flora to thrive.

“With all the measures we are putting in place, we’re confident that once the new A14 opens our work will leave a positive impact on the new road’s local environment.”

Some of the measures taken to protect and enhance the A14’s local environment include tunnels beneath the new 12-mile stretch of the new road which will bypass Huntingdon to the south, with shrubs carefully planted to direct animals to ensure they have a safe way to cross the road, which carries up to 85,000 drivers every day.

A trio of new habitats for newts have been built, including ponds and log piles, which they hibernate beneath through the winter.

Water voles, which have declined in number is recent years, will benefit from five new habitats. And other areas created include refuges for snakes and ponds for toads, plus drainage ponds for beetles. A hedgerow near Brampton has also been built as a wildlife corridor, allowing bats and dormice to forage, travel and colonise.

Further work to protect our flying friends includes installing 800 boxes for them to live in, with 360 for bats, 90 for small birds, 22 for barn owls, and 24 for swifts and kestrels.

The approximately 900,000 trees and shrubs being planted on the project are from more than 40 native species including dogwood, hawthorn, hazel, oak, elder, honeysuckle, and many more. Twenty-five miles of hedgerow, woodland the size of Monaco, and scrubland are among the habitats being provided which will mature over 15 years.

Lifting topsoil at the start of the scheme has revealed seed banks of local fauna which are now able to thrive, increasing biodiversity. Rare plants on the scheme include the slender tare, bee and pyramidal orchids, the dwarf spurge, stone parsley, and many more. These plants are vital to provide a habitat for bees, moths, butterflies and birds. Seeds from some of these plants were harvested before construction began, and are planned to be used along the scheme once work finishes.

Another way to project the environment is to source energy and resources responsibly during construction. All of the energy used at the A14’s site compounds at Swavesey, Brampton and Ermine Street is renewable, with over half of the five million tonnes of materials needed to upgrade the 21-mile stretch of road sourced locally.

Hybrid generators, hydrogen powered vehicles and solar power have also been used to slash the scheme’s carbon footprint. The CO2 savings from solar energy used on the A14 equate to the energy needed to drive a new car around the planet 110 times. And only non-drinking water is used for construction.

Minimising the need to import materials and construction components from far away is also helping the project reduce its footprint on the environment. A pre-cast yard building concrete decks and parapets for bridges has shrunk the travelling distance between the factory and the 34 new bridges and structures where they are needed.

You can find out more about the A14 project’s environmental work here.

Demolition of bridge on Britain’s biggest roads project finishes 24 hours early
June 24th, 2019

Demolition of bridge on Britain’s biggest roads project finishes 24 hours early

the old bridge (to the right) has now been demolished

the old bridge (to the right) has now been demolished

Work to demolish a bridge, the next stage of providing an improved junction in Britain’s biggest roads project, has been completed 24 hours early.

The bridge, at Bar Hill in Cambridgeshire, was demolished in order to provide an improved junction as part of the £1.5 billion Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade. The A14 was closed this weekend between Swavesey and Bar Hill and was due to open at 5am on Monday, though successful working by the team has seen the road reopen at around 5am Sunday morning instead.

Main construction to upgrade 21 miles of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon is progressing well and reached the half way mark in November 2018. The project will add capacity, boost the local and national economy and cut up to 20 minutes off drivers’ journeys.

Fourteen new bridges have opened to traffic since work started, and construction is well underway on 20 more. The 750m long River Great Ouse Viaduct, with its 6,000-tonne steel structure, is now complete.

You can get full details on the work to remove the bridges and improve this junction, plus all the latest information about the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme and to sign up to email updates, at www.highways.gov.uk/A14C2H. People can also follow @A14C2H on Twitter and like the scheme Facebook page at www.facebook.com/A14C2H/.

New junction bridge opens on Britain’s biggest road project
June 6th, 2019

New junction bridge opens on Britain’s biggest road project

Bar Hill junction

the two new bridges which were dropped into place at the A14 Bar Hill junction last September.

The country’s biggest road project takes a step closer to completion as one of the dozens of new bridges being built for it opens early next week (Monday 10 June).

The bridge is one of two that have been built in a redesign of the A14 junction at Bar Hill, which will see the previous lone bridge replaced by a duo to form a roundabout junction as befitting of a major trunk road on this £1.5 billion project.

Deputy project director for the A14 on behalf of Highways England, Julian Lamb, said:

“This epic project is taking its next step towards completion as we open yet another one of the 34 bridges we’re building for the new A14. Once fully completed, junctions like this one will ease congestion and improve traffic flow by providing improved access to and from the A14 as well as the local access road we’re building alongside it.

“We’re working hard to minimise disruption to drivers during this next phase of the junction redesign, and already have shown that here by dropping these bridges into place over one weekend rather than spending weeks building them over the road. This phase will see the accesses to leave and join the A14 change, and while we’ll sign this clearly, we want to make sure drivers are aware of the changes at this junction following this weekend’s work.”

The coming phase of this work will see just one of the two bridges open at junction 29, as work continues on the second bridge, the new local access road, and the new slip roads, ahead of the 21-mile upgrade opening by December 2020.

To safely carry out the switch from the old to the new bridge, the southbound lane on the old junction bridge will be closed this weekend. The closure will be in place from 9pm on Friday 7 June to 6am on Monday 10 June. Traffic wishing to access Bar Hill or the westbound A14 from the B1050 Hattons Road will be diverted to join the A14 eastbound, exit at Dry Drayton, junction 30, and re-join the A14 westbound. Access to and from Bar Hill will be maintained at all times.

When the new bridge opens, traffic will travel via the new bridge and the B1050 Hattons Road on a single lane in each direction, with a second, dedicated turning lane provided at the traffic lights. Traffic wishing to join the eastbound A14 at Bar Hill will do so by turning onto a short stretch of local access road at the traffic lights and joining the A14 via a temporary slip road. Traffic wishing to exit the A14 eastbound at Bar Hill will need to continue along the A14 past the old exit slip road (which will now be closed) and the new bridges, then turn off on the new temporary slip road to join the short stretch of local access road and access the B1050 Hattons Road.

The old bridge will then be demolished in a fortnight, with the A14 closed from 2am on Saturday 22 June until 11pm on Sunday 23 June. Once the old bridge has been removed, this will allow work to continue on the completion of the second junction bridge, the new local access road, and the new slip road, with further phases of work needed at a later date to complete this junction.

An additional bridge is also set to be built to allow access for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders to cross the A14 at Bar Hill. This bridge will eventually connect with new paths alongside the local access road and the B1050 Hattons Road.

The two junction bridges, each weighing a thousand tonnes, were built beside the existing A14 and dropped into place while the road was closed for a single weekend last September. This innovative method of bridge building helped to minimise disruption much more than the usual way of gradually building the structure, with around a hundred lane and road closures avoided.

For more information and diagrams showing the new layout, read this leaflet.

Britain’s biggest road upgrade uncovers extremely rare Roman coin
May 20th, 2019

Britain’s biggest road upgrade uncovers extremely rare Roman coin

This photo shows the only the second coin of Emperor Laelianus to be discovered in England

This is only the second coin of Emperor Laelianus to be discovered in England

An incredibly rare coin featuring a Roman emperor who reigned for only two months is the latest remarkable discovery made on Britain’s biggest road upgrade.

The ‘radiate’ coin, which depicts the Roman emperor Ulpius Cornelius Laelianus wearing a radiate crown, is only the second of its kind to be discovered on an archaeological dig in England.

It was uncovered by the team of archaeologists working on Highways England’s £1.5billion upgrade of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

The find is significant because the usurper Laelianus ruled a breakaway empire from Rome for a short spell in the Third Century, with evidence of his reign very rare. This coin did likely not arrive in Britain from the continent until after the ill-fated emperor’s demise.

Dr Steve Sherlock, archaeology lead for the A14 on behalf of Highways England, said: “Discoveries of this kind are incredibly rare. This is one of many coins that we’ve found on this exciting project, but to find one, where there are only two known from excavations in this country that portray this particular emperor, really is quite significant. I look forward to seeing how the analysis of this find along with numerous other Roman remains that we have found on this project help us better understand our past.”

The coin was discovered in the ditch of a small Roman farmstead unearthed on the project and the head on it has been identified by a leading coin expert as the ill-fated Emperor Laelianus who usurped the Gallic Empire in 269AD.

Highways England is working with experts from MOLA Headland Infrastructure on the A14.

Julian Bowsher, numismatist at MOLA Headland Infrastructure, said: “Roman emperors were very keen to mint coins. Laelianus reigned for just two months which is barely enough time to do so. However, coins were struck in Mainz, Germania. The fact that one of these coins ever reached the shores of Britain, demonstrates remarkable efficiency, and there’s every chance that Laelianus had been killed by the time this coin arrived in Cambridgeshire.”

An even older coin was found on the project recently, dating back in 57 BC, meaning it was likely minted to help fund the resistance to Julius Caesar. The Gallic War Uniface coin was minted by the Ambiani tribe, who lived around what is now Amiens in the Somme area of modern day France, and exported their currency across the Channel to the Celtic cousins to help resist the Romans.

The approach to archaeology on the A14 underlines Highways England’s approach to protecting the country’s cultural heritage. Elsewhere, on the A1, work on another road upgrade recently uncovered new evidence pointing to Roman occupation in northern England earlier than previously thought.

Highways England is required by law to agree plans for how a scheme will deal with the effects it will have on its immediate environment, including local communities, wildlife and plants, and also any archaeological finds that may be found ahead of starting work on any new road or major upgrade.

The pioneering work of the project has now seen the A14 archaeology win the “Rescue Project of the Year” accolade in the 2019 Current Archaeology Awards.

Who was Emperor Laelianus?

In the spring of AD 269, Laelianus was most likely the Governor of Upper Germany. From Mainz (ancient Mogontiacum), Laelianus, who was a superb military commander, defeated an invasion by Germanic tribes from over the Rhine. After this success, he went on to launch a revolt against the emperor of the break-away Gallic Empire, Postumus, and took over a large part of what is now Germany and France. However, his ‘reign’ cannot have lasted more than a couple of months. Both Laelianus and Postumus were killed in the siege of Mainz – Laelianus by soldiers loyal to Postumus. The new emperor Victorinus, restored peace.

Coins of Laelianus have his bust (head and shoulders) on one side and Victory on the other. The only other coin of his to be discovered on an archaeological excavation in England was found in Greenwich Park in 2001 – most are found in coin hoards not alone, as this one was.

The coin is important not just because of its scarcity, but also because it is physical evidence of the coin being circulated in Britain – also part of the Gallic empire – during Laelianus’ short and turbulent reign.

Britain’s biggest road just got bigger
March 26th, 2019

Britain’s biggest road just got bigger

A1 now officially open

The improved section of A1 is now officially open

The A1, Britain’s longest road, has been boosted with 7 miles of new lanes after an improved section of it opened to traffic on Monday 25 March.

3.5 miles of the A1 in Cambridgeshire has been widened from two to three lanes in each direction as part of Highways England’s £1.5 billion project to upgrade the A14, the country’s biggest road upgrade.

Today, the extra lanes are open to traffic and the A1’s 70mph speed limit has been restored, benefitting the 31,000 drivers who use it every day.

Highways England is upgrading 21 miles of the A14, the East of England’s major trunk road, between Cambridge and Huntingdon. The improvements include creating seamless links between the A14 and the A1, with a redesigned junction and widening of the A1 either side of it.

The improvements the A14 scheme is delivering will boost the local and national economy, upgrade a key link between the East coast and the Midlands and save up to 20 minutes for the 85,000 drivers who use it every day. And, with a decision due soon on designating part of the improved A14 and A1 as motorways, the project could create a continuous motorway from London to Peterborough for the first time.

Highways England Executive Director for Major Projects and Capital Portfolio Management, Peter Mumford, said:
“Today is a great step forward for people living, working and driving in and around Cambridgeshire as we open the first section of this ground-breaking road upgrade. The A14 sets the standard for how Highways England is delivering the first class infrastructure that the country needs to be successful, and it is great to see this new section of the A1 opening for traffic. It is just a taste of the huge benefits that the A14 upgrade will bring.”

Highways England Project Director for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, David Bray, said: “This is a big step in delivering a new, improved A14, and drivers can see just how much work has been done over the last couple of years. The upgraded A1 will fit seamlessly together with the new A14 and improve journeys on both roads.

“The A1 is a vital road for England, just as the A14 is for the East, and we’ll have transformed both in this area into three-lane, 70mph roads, making journeys safer and faster. The A1 is just one of six phases of the overall A14 upgrade project, and our 2700-strong team is working tirelessly to deliver the rest of this huge scheme, with work expected to be complete by the end of next year.”

At 410 miles the A1 is Britain’s longest road, connecting London to Edinburgh. The A14 meets the A1 at Brampton in Cambridgeshire and, as part of the A14 project, Highways England has widened it from two lanes to three in both directions between Alconbury and Buckden and built a redesigned junction at Brampton Hut.

Alongside the upgraded A1 there will also be a new local access road to help drivers making local journeys to get around. This will run from the new Ellington junction alongside the A1 northbound and is in addition to the new five-mile long local access road running parallel to the new A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, the first section of which opened to traffic on Monday 18 March. Together, they will strengthen local links between villages, improve access to Cambridge for local communities and will become part of the local road network when the new A14 opens.

Cllr Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Chairman of the Economy and Environment Committee, said: “This is more great news for the residents and drivers of Cambridgeshire and another milestone achievement. These improvements to the A1, between Alconbury and Buckden, will provide a smooth link into the A14 avoiding the Brampton Hut roundabout and improve journey times. There will also be a local access road alongside the improved A1 from the new Ellington junction connecting local communities without them needing to use the A14. We’re looking forward to the opening of the whole A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade.”

Councillor Graham Bull, Leader of Huntingdonshire District Council, said: “The new A14, and the improvements to this section of the A1, are key to ensuring that Huntingdonshire can fulfil its potential as a truly great place to live, work and invest, and we are delighted to see new sections of the road beginning to open. It is part of an important wider network, including the A428 and the A1 between Buckden and Black Cat, which we are keen to work with partners to continue to improve.”

There will still be some finishing works on the A1 such as completing the Woolley Road access, commissioning the gantries to help share real time information with drivers, and completing the links to and from the new A14 later this year. This work will require some overnight closures and information will be shared in advance so people can plan journeys.

The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon project is now more than half way through construction. Nine of the project’s 34 bridges and structures have already opened to traffic and the longest one, the half-mile long River Great Ouse Viaduct, was completed in February. The team has worked hard to protect and enhance the natural environment, and made incredible archaeological discoveries including a 100,000-year-old woolly mammoth tusk and woolly rhino skull, and more recently the earliest evidence of beer brewing in Britain, dating back to 400BC.

The A14 project is due to be completed and fully opened by December 2020.

First section of new local road opens to help link Cambridgeshire communities
March 19th, 2019

First section of new local road opens to help link Cambridgeshire communities

Local access road between Girton and Dry DraytonThe latest section of Britain’s biggest road project opens today – giving communities a new local link from their villages to their nearest city.

This section of link road is the latest milestone in the £1.5 billion improvement of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

It is the first part of one longer five-mile link road which will help people travel between local communities and cross the A14 safely, also improving links for villagers to and from Cambridge city centre. The A14 is a key route between the east coast and the midlands, and the whole scheme will speed up journeys by up to 20 minutes.

David Bray, Highways England Project Director said:

“Our work on the new A14 is progressing well, and our amazing team has been working very hard, with up to 2,700 staff working across more than 20 miles every day.

“Building the new A14 is just one part of our project; building local access roads such as this one is equally important. This road will help connect communities between Huntingdon and Cambridge without them needing to use the new A14.”

The whole project is upgrading 21 miles of the A14, with 12 miles of that being a new bypass south of Huntingdon.

The road opening today links the villages of Girton and Dry Drayton, and is the first part of a five-mile long link road that will, when finished, run from Girton to Swavesey, before the local road then continues as the old A14. The completed road will become part of the local road network and benefit people making local journeys between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Highways England has submitted a request to Government for part of the new A14 to become a motorway when it opens, which would provide continuous motorway from London to Peterborough.

Work on the local link road, which will become an extension to the A1307 once the A14 project has been completed, began in spring 2017.

The A14 team has already opened nine of the project’s 34 bridges and structures to traffic, while reaching out to engage with and support local communities, and making incredible archaeological discoveries.

Cllr Ian Bates, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Chairman of the Economy and Environment Committee, said: “I’m really pleased the new local access road between Girton and Dry Drayton is ready to open which will connect local communities without them needing to use the A14. This is great news for those people who live and work in the area. The responsibility for this new road will be handed over to us at the county council and we’re looking forward to the opening of the whole A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade.”

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Deputy Leader and Lead Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, said: “It’s great to see that the first part of this new road is opening. I hope it will be of real benefit to residents of Dry Drayton and Girton and make their journeys easier.

“When fully complete we hope the access road and adjoining cycle path will also improve conditions for residents in the other villages alongside the A14 as it will mean they have an excellent new way to get to and from their homes. We hope it will also help reduce congestion through these villages too.”

Main construction of the A14 improvement is progressing well and reached the halfway mark in November 2018. The project, which will open to traffic by December 2020, will add capacity and boost the local and national economy.

A14 archaeology work scoops latest national award
March 15th, 2019

A14 archaeology work scoops latest national award

 

Highways England’s work to tap into the nation’s history while delivering huge road improvements has received national recognition.

In a public vote, the archaeological work carried out as part of the company’s £1.5 billion upgrade of the A14, the crucial route linking the East of England and the Midlands, was awarded the top gong.

The accolade for the improvement scheme comes as Highways England progresses projects across the country to uncover more and more of England’s rich past.

The improvement of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon was honoured with “Rescue Project of the Year” accolade in the 2019 Current Archaeology Awards.

A team of up to 250 archaeologists led by experts from MOLA Headland Infrastructure has been investigating 33 sites across 360 hectares.

Finds so far on the A14 have included three Anglo Saxon villages, an abandoned medieval village, 100,000-year old woolly mammoth tusks and a woolly rhino skull, a Roman supply depot and rare Roman coins from the third century.

Experts on the scheme also recently uncovered what is believed to be evidence of the first beer brewed in the UK, dating back as far back as 400 BC.

The project trumped competition from teams working on projects including the excavation of human remains from the Anglo-Saxon and Norman eras, and exploring an 18th Century German mercenary camp, to receive the award.

Dr Steve Sherlock, Highways England archaeology lead for the A14, said: “We are all thrilled to win this coveted award that recognises the partnership and team working we have been doing that has made the A14 such a great project to be involved with.

“The team continues to make remarkable discoveries that are shaping our understanding of Britain’s history, and even though the bulk of our archaeological fieldwork is done now, I look forward to seeing what we continue to find over the remainder of the project, and sharing these discoveries with the communities we’ve been working in.”

Kasia Gdaniec, Cambridgeshire County Council’s archaeological adviser, added: “Great thanks must go the readership of Current Archaeology and the wider public who voted for the A14 Project and who found the diverse archaeological stories and discoveries of this Cambridgeshire scheme to be so engaging. Thanks go, too, to Highways England and the A14 management team for continuing to support this important archaeology programme, which has showcased people’s livelihoods, settlements and burial practices over 6,000 years.

The A14 improvement, due to open to traffic by December 2020, is upgrading a 21-mile section between Cambridge to Huntingdon, which will speed up journeys by up to 20 minutes, adding capacity and boosting the local and national economy.

Major milestone for A14 as new bridge completed
February 25th, 2019

Major milestone for A14 as new bridge completed

The half-mile long River Great Ouse viaduct

Work has finished on the 750m long River Great Ouse viaduct

Better journeys on the A14 are one step closer now that construction has been completed on the biggest bridge in Highways England’s £1.5 billion A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade.

The River Great Ouse Viaduct stretches for half a mile and, when it is open to traffic, will take the new A14 over the river and the East Coast Mainline Railway. It is part of a brand new 12-mile bypass that is being built to the south of Huntingdon away from the existing A14 and will link together the other four miles of the A14 being transformed in Britain’s biggest road upgrade.

The £1.5 billion scheme will transform journeys on one of the East of England’s most vital roads, and the completion of the viaduct is the latest piece of the puzzle to be put in place.

This time-lapse video shows the work that has gone into creating the huge bridge.

Willie McCormick, Construction Director for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme on behalf of Highways England, said:

“This viaduct over the River Great Ouse, south of Huntingdon, is by far the biggest bridge on our 21-mile project. It’s taken over 18 months to build, and covers 747 metres to carry drivers over the river and floodplain – yet when it opens to traffic in 2020, drivers will cross it in less than 30 seconds.

“Our hardworking team is building 34 new bridges and structures as part of this epic project to deliver a new and improved A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon for the 85,000 vehicles a day who drive it. We’ve already opened nine of these to traffic, but around three quarters of the work we are doing is off the existing road network and unseen to drivers.

“We have up to 2,700 staff working on the A14 most days, and it has been remarkable to see this new road emerge as we have moved earth and delivered a wide array of structures. We’re over half way through delivering the new A14, and this video will show people the hard work that is being done that they can’t see, and understand just how much has been done since work began in November 2016.”

Some 64 pillars are needed to carry the viaduct over the River Ouse floodplain, each around two metres wide and embedded up to 30 metres in the ground. The pillars support the 17 spans of steel beams and concrete slabs which form the bridge deck. When the new A14 fully opens by December 2020, the bridge will help to reduce journey times on the road by up to 20 minutes.

The River Great Ouse Viaduct is one of 34 main bridges and structures on the A14 improvement scheme. Once the new road is open to traffic, it will add capacity, boost the local and national economy and cut up to 20 minutes off drivers’ journeys.

Innovative working by an on-site prefabrication yard has helped the team complete the viaduct structural work for £4 million less than anticipated by using more traditional methods, while also making it safer for the workforce with less time spent working at height.

Main construction on a project to upgrade 21 miles of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon started on Monday 28 November 2016 and is on target to be opened to traffic by December 2020.

Earliest evidence of beer making discovered on Britain’s biggest road scheme
January 31st, 2019

Earliest evidence of beer making discovered on Britain’s biggest road scheme

Archaeobotanist Lara Gonzalez Carretero studies the earliest evidence of beer making

MOLA HEADLAND archaebotanist, Lara Gonzalez believes this is the earliest evidence of British beer brewing.

Deep below the surface of Britain’s biggest road scheme something has been brewing… for a very long time – more than 2,000 years in fact.

Experts working on Highways England’s £1.5bn upgrade of the A14 in Cambridgeshire have uncovered what is believed to be evidence of the first beer brewed in the UK.

The tell-tale signs of the Iron Age brew, potentially from as far back as 400 BC, were uncovered in tiny fragments of charred residues from the beer making process from earth excavated with other archaeological finds.

Further finds show the locals also had a taste for porridge and bread as well as beer.

The discoveries are the latest on the road project where previous finds include woolly mammoths, abandoned villages, and burials.

 

Dr Steve Sherlock, Highways England archaeology lead for the A14, said:

“The work we are doing on the A14 continues to unearth incredible discoveries that are helping to shape our understanding of how life in Cambridgeshire, and beyond, has developed through history.

“It’s a well-known fact that ancient populations used the beer making process to purify water and create a safe source of hydration, but this is potentially the earliest physical evidence of that process taking place in the UK.

“This is all part of the work we are doing to respect the areas cultural heritage while we deliver our vital upgrade for the A14.”

A team of up to 250 archaeologists led by experts from MOLA Headland Infrastructure has been working on the project, investigating 33 sites across 360 hectares.

MOLA Headland archaeobotanist, Lara Gonzalez came across the latest fascinating evidence.

Lara said: “I knew when I looked at these tiny fragments under the microscope that I had something special. The microstructure of these remains had clearly changed through the fermentation process and air bubbles typical of those formed in the boiling and mashing process of brewing. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack but as an archaeobotanist it’s incredibly exciting to identify remains of this significance and to play a part in uncovering the fascinating history of the Cambridgeshire landscape.

“The porous structures of these fragments are quite similar to bread, but through microscopic study, it’s possible to see that this residue is from the beer-making process as it shows evidence of fermentation and contains larger pieces of cracked grains and bran but no fine flour. Further analysis into the fermentation process involved in brewing will hopefully tell us more.”

Microscopic samples of what is believed to be the earliest evidence of beer making in the UK

These microscopic samples show what is believed to be the earliest evidence of beer making in the UK, potentially dating back to 400 BC

The A14 is a key route between the east coast and the midlands, and Highways England is upgrading a 21-mile section between Cambridge to Huntingdon, which will speed up journeys by up to 20 minutes.

Finds so far have included 40 pottery kilns, 342 burials, a Roman supply depot, rare Roman coins from the third century, three Anglo Saxon villages, an abandoned Medieval village.

When archaeological features are excavated, soil samples are collected and sent back to a laboratory for archaeobotanists to examine. These samples hold tiny but vital evidence that can shape our understanding of how, and where, people have cultivated crops, providing tantalising clues about our food, drink and occasionally clothing, in the distant past.

Roger Protz, lecturer, author of more than 20 books on beer including IPA – A Legend in Our Time, and former editor of the Campaign for Real Ale’s Good Beer Guide, said:

“East Anglia has always been of great importance to brewing as a result of the quality of the barley that grows there. It’s known as maritime barley and is prized throughout the world. When the Romans invaded Britain they found the local tribes brewing a type of beer called curmi. As far as is known, it was made from grain, but no hops were used: hops didn’t come into use in Britain until the 15th century, and there was much opposition to hops from many traditional brewers, who used herbs and spice to balance the sweetness of the malt.

“In the late 1990s scientists at Cambridge University used a translation of a recipe for beer brewed in Ancient Egypt that was made from grain and dates. I tasted the beer and it was surprisingly ‘beery’. A brewery in Ghent, Belgium, called Gruut produces beers using medieval recipes and flavours the beers with the likes of ivy, ginger, bog myrtle and peppercorns. Again, the end products are remarkably like modern beers.

“The Romans may have made beer – perhaps when supplies of wine ran out. Excavations in the old Roman part of St Albans – Verulamium – found a malt kiln.”

The pioneering work of the project has now seen the A14 archaeology project nominated for the “Rescue Project of the Year” accolade in the 2019 Current Archaeology Awards. All projects nominated are commended for their archaeological work over the last 12 months. The awards are voted for entirely by the public. Voting is now live and will run until Monday 11 February, with the winners announced on Friday 8 March. For full details about the project’s nomination and to cast your vote, visit: https://www.archaeology.co.uk/vote

UK’s biggest road upgrade reaches half way point
November 27th, 2018

UK’s biggest road upgrade reaches half way point

The River Great Ouse viaduct is 85% completeThe £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme reaches its half way point this week.

Construction work to upgrade 21 miles of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon started on Monday 28 November 2016 and is on target to be completed by December 2020.

Since work started, more than 8 million working hours have gone into the project, and eight million cubic metres of earthworks have been moved across the site – equivalent to more than three Great Pyramids of Giza. Nine new bridges will have opened to traffic by the end of the year and construction is well underway on 25 more. Along the way, the project team has started delivering extensive protection for the environment and uncovered astonishing archaeological finds which shine new light on thousands of years of history.

Highways England Project Director for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme David Bray said:

“Our amazing team has been working incredibly hard to deliver this upgraded A14, and most days we have up to 2,700 staff working across more than 20 miles to build the new roads and bridges that are needed, in addition to all of the environmental measures we are implementing. This is the biggest road building project currently taking place in the country and yet drivers will only see around a quarter of it from the existing road at present.

“Working on this epic project has been remarkable so far: from seeing the new road emerge as we moved earth into place for its foundations, to the wide array of bridges and structures being built, the fantastic discoveries of our archaeological team and the industry-leading work our environmental team is carrying out.

“We know drivers can be frustrated by roadworks, particularly when they’re in place for a long time, but we’re delighted to announce at this two-year anniversary that we’re on time and on budget, having completed more than 50 per cent of the work, to get this new road opened for drivers by the end of 2020.”

Highways England is upgrading a 21-mile stretch of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon to three lanes in each direction including a brand new 17-mile bypass south of Huntingdon, with four lanes in each direction between Bar Hill and Girton. The project, which includes 34 main bridges and structures, will add capacity, boost the local and national economy and cut up to 20 minutes off drivers’ journeys.

Since work started in November 2016, 80 per cent of the 10 million cubic metres of material needed for the £1.5 billion project has been moved, with the spoil used for new earthworks and embankments. More than 8,000,000 construction hours have been worked, and the 750m long River Great Ouse Viaduct, with its 6,000 tonne steel structure, is 85 per cent complete.

The project team has worked hard to keep traffic flowing through the roadworks, leaving all lanes open to traffic during the day, with extra restrictions, when needed, in place overnight and at weekends. The free recovery service has also responded swiftly to every incident within the existing roadworks, recovering more than 700 broken down vehicles, with 95 per cent of these cleared within an hour, and 184 cleared within 30 minutes.

The team has won eight industry awards for innovative working, including ‘Best Construction Project to Work On’ and a RoSPA Gold Health and Safety Award. The project is also the first of its type to be recognised as by the Considerate Construction Scheme as an ‘Ultra’ site, for the way the project is delivered.

The project’s diverse workforce includes more than 100 apprentices and 63 graduates, in addition to 28 internships and two Groundwork outreach programmes.

Some 250 archaeologists have been involved in the scheme, investigating 33 sites across 360 hectares. Their remarkable discoveries include 40 pottery kilns, 342 burials, a Roman camp, an abandoned Medieval village, rare Roman coins from the third century, and a variety of Ice Age animals, including a woolly mammoth from 130,000 years ago.

Some 866,000 plants from 50 different species will be replanted alongside the new A14, with trees in keeping with those found locally including oak, elm, hawthorn, blackthorn, elder and field maple. Several rare plant species have also been moved so that they can be replanted. In all, twice as many trees will be replanted as those which have had to be felled for the construction of the new road and cleared vegetation has been used within the local community for energy production. All the electricity used in the project has come from renewable energy.

The team has also been working hard to support local charities and good causes, with 30 local projects receiving £280,000 to benefit around 2,000 people. as part of the A14 Community Fund. Around £60,000 has been raised for local charities through various initiatives too.

In partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council, a £3.5 million programme of works has started to build new pedestrian, cyclist and horse rider routes in addition to the 18 miles which are provided as part of the scheme. Funding has also been secured to support four local flood prevention projects. Communities have engaged with the project thanks to the team’s mobile visitor exhibition centre attending 70 events, reaching around 5,000 people.

In recent weeks, a new bridge over the A14 at Swavesey has opened to traffic, and an old bridge demolished. Two massive new bridges at Bar Hill were also moved into place during a weekend operation in September, having been pre-fabricated next to the A14. Looking ahead, the project team expects to open a new local access road between Cambridge and Dry Drayton this winter, and the new A1 between Brampton and Buckden is expected to open early in 2019.

The fully upgraded A14 is due to be opened to traffic by December 2020.

Mammoth discovery on A14 improvement programme
October 24th, 2018

Mammoth discovery on A14 improvement programme

Remains of an ice age mammoth tuskThe remains of a woolly mammoth dating back to the ice age are among the latest remarkable finds from the team working on the £1.5 billion A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon project.

Highways England experts, working alongside archaeologists from MOLA Headland Infrastructure, have discovered the partial remains of a woolly mammoth and woolly rhino, both at least 100,000 years old, during excavations for construction materials near Fenstanton in what was once an ancient river.

They are the latest in a series of fantastic finds from the team building the new road, due to open in December 2020, with other remarkable discoveries including Prehistoric henges, Iron Age settlements, Roman pottery kilns, three Anglo-Saxon villages, and a deserted medieval village.

Highways England Cultural Heritage Team Leader for the A14, Dr Steve Sherlock said:

“These discoveries are just the latest in a line of amazing finds that the team has unearthed since this work begun at the end of 2016. All of these finds are testament to the rich history of the region, and in particular this local area around the A14 in Cambridgeshire.

“It’s crucial that we record this evidence for the past so that it can be seen and understood by future generations. Seeing the remains of these extinct animals really brings to life what was happening over a hundred thousand years ago”.

“We’ve been working hard in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council and our archaeological team to unearth the historical secrets of this area and understand some of the incredible things that have happened in the county. Although our excavations as part of this work will soon be finished, Highways England will continue to respect our country’s environmental and cultural heritage across all of our improvement schemes, and we’ll be ensuring that the finds from our work on the A14 are well preserved and accessible to residents.”

Dr Bill Boismier, consultant Palaeolithic archaeologist for MOLA Headland, said:

“The bones together with other environmental evidence surviving from the Ice Age such as plant remains, insects, and microscopic pollen grains from plants should help us to create a picture of the floodplain environment at the time when these remains were deposited.”

Kasia Gdaniec, Senior Archaeologist at Cambridgeshire County Council, said:
“Quarries afford unique opportunities to understand deep time periods of land formation and transformation and enable us to understand how humans and animals adapted to the changing climatic and environmental conditions. Gravel quarries, such as the one at Fenstanton, provide valuable evidence of ice ages and warm periods, or interstadials, and require specialist investigation to interpret the evolution of the landscapes represented by the mineral and sedimentary series within them.

“This is hugely important to our understanding of some of the most distant times in the human past and Cambridgeshire County Council extend their gratitude to the A14Team and Highways England for continuing their support of the nationally significant archaeology programme.”

Both the woolly mammoth and woolly rhino were alive during the last Ice Age, the Pleistocene Epoch, which began about 2.6 million years ago and ended around 9,700 BC. This period was a time where the climate oscillated between cold glacial conditions with vast glaciers and warm temperate interglacial environments with animals such as hippopotamus foraging along the banks of the River Thames.

Mammoths and woolly rhinos adapted to life on the cold grasslands lying south of the glaciers. They were covered by thick fur and layers of body fat to protect them from the bitter cold of the glacial winter. Both animals fed mainly on low lying grasses and other herbs.

The woolly mammoth is closely related to today’s Asian Elephant, though has a thick coat of brown fur in addition to its distinctive curved tusks. The herbivores were roughly the size of modern African Elephants, with the larger males measuring around four metres tall and weighing in at up to six tonnes. Initially surviving the end of the Ice Age, the last of them are believed to have lived on in the Arctic until around 1,560 BC – around a thousand years after the Pyramids of Giza were built.

The woolly rhino grew to around four metres long and weighed-in at just under a tonne with a height of around two metres at the shoulders, and had two distinctive horns on its head. They went extinct in Britain around 15,000 years ago, and have no living relatives.

The latest discoveries will now be treated by conservators in London and then studied by Ice Age specialists.

We’re working hard to minimise the impact of the project on local communities
October 18th, 2018

We’re working hard to minimise the impact of the project on local communities

Minimising disruption infographic

Here are some of the steps we’re taking to ensure traffic follows the agreed diversion routes

We recognise that the work we do has an impact on those living around the project and those travelling on the road. Before starting work, we made a commitment to minimise our impact on local roads and communities as much as possible. To keep traffic moving we’ve maintained the number of traffic lanes during the day, by installing narrow lanes.

When lane and carriageway closures are needed to keep our workers and road users safe, we’ve ensured that these take place at night only, when traffic levels are lower.

Before starting any work on the strategic road network (motorways and major trunk roads), Highways England agrees diversion routes with the local highway authority (in this case Cambridgeshire County Council), to ensure that appropriate roads are used. This is because roads used for diversions need to be suitable for all the traffic that uses these roads, including HGVs.

We are aware that not all vehicles are following diversion routes and that this is having an impact on local communities. While it is difficult to completely stop this, we are working hard to ensure that drivers use the correct routes.

We have also considered, but discounted several other options which were not practical. These included:

  • Using ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras. However, these collect registration numbers rather than information about the weight or use of the vehicle.
  • Additional temporary traffic orders to restrict the weight of vehicles using local roads. This may be done in exceptional circumstances, but requires police resource and enforcement.
  • Lorry-watch schemes to ensure that only permitted vehicles (below the allowed weight) use local roads. It is difficult to expect local community members to easily identify the weight of vehicles and would require police resource to follow up.

You can see just some of the steps we’re taking in our infographic above.

Plans for part of A14 upgrade to become a motorway
September 7th, 2018

Plans for part of A14 upgrade to become a motorway

Highways England is proposing for an 18-mile section of the A14 in Cambridgeshire to be classified as a motorway once upgrade work is complete, bringing economic and safety benefits, under plans announced by Highways England today (Friday 7 September).

The move will create an unbroken motorway link between London and Peterborough and will increase safety and improve journeys by encouraging local and long-distance traffic onto the most suitable routes.

Highways England is nearly half way through the £1.5bn project to improve 21 miles of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon – the biggest road upgrade currently in construction in the UK.

That means the main section of the A14 upgrade between the M11 and the A1(M) can have the benefits of a motorway – including variable speed limits which reduce congestion and help traffic move more smoothly. The motorway section of the improved road will be called the A14(M) when it opens in 2020.

Highways England project director David Bray said:

“We want the A14 upgrade to be the safest and best road it can possibly be, and we now have an opportunity to make our already robust plans even better by putting the right traffic onto the right roads when the new A14 opens to traffic.

“Creating a motorway link between the A1(M) and the M11 will mean motorists and hauliers carrying goods across the country will be able to travel more smoothly and safely, while local and slow moving traffic will benefit from the new routes we are introducing.”

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates said:

“The A14 was completely off the agenda until we led a charge with local MPs and partner councils to get the much-needed improvements on this congested road. We fully support the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon major upgrade, which is why we contributed financially.

“The A14 becoming a motorway will improve connectivity from the M11 to the A1 at Alconbury and will serve Peterborough. The upgrade of this road is vital to boost the local economy and create jobs. Cambridgeshire’s economy is recognised as being able to help kick start the national economy and unblocking the A14 plays an important part in that.”

Later this year, Highways England will formally ask the Planning Inspectorate to amend the road’s status from trunk road to motorway, in time for the project opening in 2020. The Secretary of State for Transport will then make the final decision next year.

If the change is given the go ahead, motorway status will also be extended to a three-mile section of the A1 from Alconbury to Brampton, which will be re-named as A1(M).

The A14 upgrade already includes new routes for local traffic, which will be usable by non-motorway traffic, as well as improvements for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

Work on building the £1.5bn upgrade to the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon started in November 2016. The project includes widening a total of seven miles of the A14 in each direction (across two sections), a major new bypass south of Huntingdon, widening a three-mile section of the A1 and demolition of a viaduct at Huntingdon, which will support improvements in the town.

For the latest information about the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, visit https://highwaysengland.co.uk/a14c2h, follow @HighwaysEast and @A14C2H on Twitter and visit the scheme’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/A14C2H/

Video: innovative technique to install two bridges in one weekend on A14 upgrade
September 3rd, 2018

Video: innovative technique to install two bridges in one weekend on A14 upgrade

How do you build two 1,000 tonne bridges over a very busy road while (nearly) keeping the road open throughout? You build them at the side of the road and wheel them into place at the end!

This is exactly what the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade team has been doing over the past few months. They have built four abutments to support the new bridges as well as two bridge decks at the side of the live carriageway, and are now ready to wheel the bridges decks, each measuring 44 metres, into place on top of the abutments.

Now the team has released an engineering video to show exactly how they plan to tackle the challenge – and it involves a very big, remote controlled platform on wheels.

How do you build two 1,000 tonne bridges over a very busy road while (nearly) keeping the road open throughout? You build them at the side of the road and wheel them into place at the end!

This is exactly what the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade team has been doing over the past few months. They have built four abutments to support the new bridges as well as two bridge decks at the side of the live carriageway, and are now ready to wheel the bridges decks, each measuring 44 metres, into place on top of the abutments.

Now the team has released an engineering video to show exactly how they plan to tackle the challenge – and it involves a very big, remote controlled platform on wheels.

The new bridges, which are being built as part of the £1.5 billion major improvement scheme and will be located at Bar Hill, will be installed during the weekend of 14 September. They will form a new, improved Bar Hill junction which will connect the A14 to the future local access road between Cambridge and Huntingdon, as well as to the existing local road between Bar Hill and Longstanton (B1050).

David Bray, project director for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade at Highways England, said:

“Redesigning and building the Bar Hill junction was identified from the start of the project as one of the main challenges we would have to tackle. I am delighted that we’ve found a way to build the two bridges while keeping the A14 open as much as possible and disruption for people locally and road users to a minimum. And I am also excited that we’re using such an innovative solution to our challenge – that’s what makes my job so interesting!”

To carry out the bridge deck installation work safely, the A14 will need to be closed between Friday 14 September, 9pm, and Monday 17 September, 6am.

During the closure, clearly signed diversions will be in place as traffic not needing to enter or exit the A14 at Bar Hill will not be able to travel through the junction along the A14 in either direction.

Through traffic travelling eastbound toward Cambridge will be diverted to leave the A14 at Godmanchester (junction 24), follow the diversion via the A1198, and A428. Through traffic travelling westbound toward Huntingdon will follow the same diversion in reverse.

The team will also need to make some temporary changes to the slip road during the closure.

Traffic wishing to travel westbound from Bar Hill will be able to access the A14 towards Huntingdon but it won’t be possible to travel eastbound on the A14 from Bar Hill. Traffic wishing to travel eastbound will be diverted via the westbound A14 to Godmanchester and join the through traffic diversion towards Cambridge.

The new bridges will ultimately replace the old bridge which will be demolished in 2019.
To help people find out more about this work and the closures, the A14 upgrade team will be available with their Mobile Visitor Centre at Tesco Bar Hill on Monday 3 September, 4pm to 8pm and Thursday 6 September, 4pm to 8pm.

There is no space to safely watch the work taking place, during the weekend but people can find out more about the work and closure details, and watch the work via a live stream online by visiting the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon social media channels and website.

Highways England is upgrading a 21-mile stretch of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon to three lanes in each direction including a brand new 17-mile bypass south of Huntingdon, with four lanes in each direction between Bar Hill and Girton. The project, which includes 34 bridges and main structures, will add additional capacity, boost the local and national economy and cut up to 20 minutes off journeys.

To check the latest traffic information for the A14 and other roads, listen to traffic bulletins on local and national radio stations, visit http://www.trafficengland.com/ and follow Highways England on Twitter via @HighwaysEAST.

For the latest information about the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, visit www.highways.gov.uk/A14C2H follow @A14C2H on Twitter and like the scheme Facebook page at www.facebook.com/A14C2H/.

Ends

  • Caption: Access to and from Bar Hill during the weekend closure.

  • Another view of the A14 Bar Hill junction, with its ongoing redesign work – July 2018.

  • Another view of the A14 Bar Hill junction, with its ongoing redesign work – July 2018.

Thousands benefit from A14 community fund
August 11th, 2018

Thousands benefit from A14 community fund

More than 2,000 people are benefitting from community grants made possible by the biggest road upgrade in the country, the £1.5bn A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement project.

Some 16 local projects have been funded by the A14 Community Fund since it launched in July 2016. The initiative was launched by Highways England to fund projects connecting local communities with the A14 upgrade, and it has already been making a difference within the communities living along the road in Cambridgeshire.

The £400,000 funding pot was launched in July 2016 and £110,000 of it has already been allocated to16 local projects ranging from education and environment, to encouraging cycling and walking.

Gerard Smith, legacy lead for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon project at Highways England, said:

This different approach to community engagement is a first for Highways England.

We care about the impact our road improvement projects have on people’s lives and at the same time, we understand the critically important role that communities play in shaping our schemes as well as the economic, social and physical landscape around them.

An initiative like the A14 Community Fund makes it possible for us to support community-led projects that will leave a positive legacy for the local area long after we have finished our construction work and the new road is open to traffic. And I’m delighted to say it’s been very successful in supporting great projects so far.”

Grants of up to a maximum value of £10,000 are available to people living along the A14 in Cambridgeshire in a series of quarterly grant rounds until the end of the project in December 2020 or when all the money has been allocated – whichever comes soonest.

There have been five rounds so far, with more opportunities coming up to bid for grants to support projects across a wide range of areas including the environment, health and well-being, heritage, arts, skills, and culture.

As examples, projects could:

  • focus on the new leisure opportunities opened up by the scheme

  • chronicle changes to the local area over time

  • complement the environmental measures being put in place

  • revisit how public spaces are used

Gerard added:

We realise it can be daunting for small organisations to write a grant application for the first time. Initially, we noticed people found it hard to demonstrate how their project linked to the A14 road improvement project. We have now put in place a two-stage process which encourages applicants to talk to our team so we can help them frame their project to give it the best chances.

Some of the best projects we’ve seen are the ones where the bidders have worked closely with our team at design stage to understand the wider impacts.

We’ve had some great bids so far and I am sure there are more to come. What we’d really like to see are bids that build on the positive legacy we are leaving with the road improvement scheme: a much improved network of cycling and walking routes that communities can link into or capitalising on improved access to areas which didn’t have it before for instance.

I look forward to seeing the bids we get for this and future rounds!”

More funding rounds are planned between now and when the project completes, with applications accepted until the fund runs out.

Case study 1: University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education A14 Writer in Residence

The University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (ICE), successfully bid for funding last year for a post of A14 Writer in Residence based at Madingley Hall, a stone’s throw from the A14 in Cambridgeshire.

The post was taken up by Daisy Johnson, a librarian, children’s writer and blogger from York, from 6 September. Since then, Daisy has been encouraging people living and travelling along the A14 in Cambridgeshire to reflect on roads and the nature of travel via a series of free creative writing initiatives including face to face courses, pop up sessions, visits to schools and a Facebook page where she has been offering regular writing prompts to followers.

The hope is for local people from all walks of life to re-discover their love of stories, and the ultimate outcome will be for all involved to contribute to an anthology to be launched at a free event held at Madingley Hall this March.

Midge Gillies, Academic Director, Creative Writing, University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, said:

Our A14 Writer in Residence, Daisy Johnson, has done a wonderful job of taking ideas about travel to many corners of the community. She has been particularly successful at engaging youngsters who see travel in a completely different way – you’re stuck in a traffic jam? Luckily, you’re wearing your edible outfit that will stop you from becoming peckish. Or wait till it’s dark to see the dragon races along the A14.

Daisy has also been active on Facebook where the A14 Stories site has persuaded people to think about their local community and to write something creative – often for the first time or after a very long gap.

And we’ve been thrilled by the response from the diverse group of students (and one lovely hearing dog) who have turned up to our three, free creative writing courses.

Roads take us to school, on holiday, to hospital, to a wedding or a funeral. We’ve all got a story about a special journey. I look forward to seeing which stories make it into the A14 writing anthology!”

Case study 2: Cambridge Science Centre, On the Road school workshops

The Cambridge Science Centre successfully bid early last year for funding to create a new cross-disciplinary workshop for schools, aimed at years 6 to 10 (10 to 15 year olds), that ties in the environmental theme of their ‘LifeWorks!’ exhibition with engineering, using the A14 as a case study.

The team developed a workshop called ‘On the Road’, which investigates the materials used in road construction and looks at the environmental considerations to take into account in road building.

To date, the workshop has been delivered to more than 700 students living near the A14 (and some further afield), mainly in secondary schools (key stage 3) but also in a number of primary schools.

The workshops were tailored to the local environment and needs of the schools, with some interested in bridge construction while others looked at general construction skills, engineering or environmental science.

Helen Slaski, CEO of the Cambridge Science Centre, said:

This funding has enabled Cambridge Science Centre to develop an exciting, hands-on workshop entitled ‘On the Road’ for the A14 project. Nearly 1,000 students throughout the East of England, particularly in areas impacted by the construction, have benefitted from this outreach programme which fulfils Cambridge Science Centre’s objectives of enhancing education and inspiring young people to think about STEM that is all around them in their daily lives. Thank you for the funding, it has made a real difference and inspired youngsters to get involved with STEM related activities.”

Other examples of funded projects include:

  • The Countryside Restoration Trust: received £9,005 to support water voles in the area of the A14 improvements

  • Great Paxton Community Village Shop Ltd: received £9,965 to provide a convenience shop for the local community including volunteering and work experience opportunities

  • The Offords Recreation Hut (Offord Village Hall): received £2,160 to provide a secure bicycle parking facility for village hall users

  • Histon & Impington Community Orchard Project: received £1,752 to complete and help maintain the orchard by providing a motorised brush cutter & hedge trimmer and an information sign

  • Groundwork East: received £10,000 to improve confidence and employability of people furthest from employment by growing wildflower plugs for use on the borrow pit nature reserves created by the A14

  • Alconbury C of E Primary School: received £5,000 for an artist to work with the whole community to update 5 murals in the school hall

  • Great Paxton Parish Council: received £3,000 to conduct a feasibility study into options to provide a safe alternative to the hazardous B1043 for cyclists

For more information about the A14 Community Fund, which is administered by the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, and to apply, visit the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation website.

 

Second year opens on a high for A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade
August 11th, 2018

Second year opens on a high for A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon upgrade

 

The A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme has been shortlisted for its 11th national award since the start of construction in November 2016.

As the £1.5bn project enters its second year of construction at full speed, the team this week found out that they have been shortlisted the 2018 Construction News Awards 2018 in the Supply Chain Excellence category.

This nomination to a top industry award comes after the recent news that the team won the BIM Show Live 2018 Award in the Information Management category (on 27 February 2018). Earlier last year, the team also won the Highways Award 2017 for Team of the Year – Procurement & Supply Chain, and the Judges overall winner award.

The project, which will see 21 miles of A14 in Cambridgeshire upgraded to three lanes in each direction (four between Bar Hill and Girton), is continuing to progress to its challenging schedule to open to traffic by the end of 2020 despite the recent severe weather. It is doing so while being recognised as leading the way in the construction industry.

David Bray, A14 project director at Highways England, says:

Since it was given the go ahead by the Secretary of State for Transport in May 2016, the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme has been leading the way in the road construction sector in many ways.

The way the project delivery team is set up in itself is unique – one big team delivering all the construction packages as one. We’re matching each project milestone with the best team to deliver it, drawing from specialist areas across all contractors working on the scheme.

This means we’re making the most of the expertise at our disposal and it has already been paying off across the board.”

Industry leading delivery

The project’s environmental team, which is continuing its work to create 18 wildlife habitats as part of the scheme covering a total of 271 hectares of new habitat by the time the scheme is completed, has received a lot of attention from the public over the past few months.

The A14 upgrade aims to leave a positive footprint on the local environment when it is complete by the end of 2020”, David explains. “Thanks to the publication of the team’s high-standard work via the media earlier this year, the team was nominated by the public for this year’s BBC Countryfile Award in the Conservation Success of the Year category. Even though we didn’t win the award, being one of five finalists nationwide is still an amazing achievement!”

David continues: “Another aspect in which the A14 upgrade is a trailblazer for the construction industry is via the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS). For the past 18 months, the project has been one of 12 pilot ‘Ultra Sites’ – the first major road infrastructure project to be recognised as such. This has meant that we’ve helped CCS develop and refine the initiative, which has been an invaluable opportunity for the team.”

The Ultra Sites initiative, which was launched on 14 February 2018, demonstrates and promotes the highest standards of considerate construction. Ultra Sites actively seek to become beacons of best practice in the construction industry and a catalyst for exceptional leadership, collaboration and innovation. To find out more, visit https://www.ccscheme.org.uk/ultrasite/a14-integrated-delivery-team-a14-cambridge-to-huntingdon-improvement-scheme/.

We’ve also taken community engagement very seriously right from the start,” says David, “using as many ways as possible to communicate with people living along the A14 in South Cambridgeshire and beyond. We’ve been using a mobile visitor centre, social media, newsletters, and more to give people a chance to find out more, get involved or even gain skills, get a job or secure funding for community projects. And we’re also planning to open our doors to the public soon!”

On Saturday 24 March, the project team will participate in the nationwide ‘Open Doors – Get in to Construction’ initiative, welcoming people to visit one of the project’s three compounds. There will be opportunities to talk to the team to find out more about what it takes to build such a huge road project, as well as come out on a guided tour of the project’s construction site. Places are limited and can be booked via www.opendoors.construction.co.uk.

The A14 Community Fund has also been very successful in helping the local community forge meaningful links with the road upgrade. The A14 Writer in Residence project led by the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education, which secured funding from the Community Fund last year, has now concluded. A collection of writing inspired by the road called A14 Voices was published on 11 March 2018. The 120-page book contains poems, letters, fiction and short stories from people who live locally.

Recent milestones achieved

David continues: “A lot has happened since the construction phase of the project reached its first anniversary at the end of November last year.

Nearly 40 percent of the project’s main construction work has been successfully completed and work is currently focusing on the scheme’s 34 bridges and structures while winter continues, marking a pause in the earth works side of the project.”

Giant steel beams have been delivered steadily to site since the end of December and many have now taken up their permanent positions on a number of bridges near Huntingdon, including the bridge over the East Coast Main Line train line and a bridge near Brampton Hunt junction which will carry the future A14 over the A1. The 750m long River Great Ouse viaduct, with its 17 spans of piling, has also seen seven of its spans fitted with steel beams, with the rest to come between now and this summer.

And a second bridge was opened to traffic in February: the Brampton Road bridge over the A1, linking Brampton and Grafham. The old bridge it replaces was demolished that same week in just under 19 hours.

Coming up next

We will start the new earth works season as soon as the weather turns milder and drier,” says David. “By the time the project is completed at the end of 2020, we will have moved ten million cubic metres of earth across site, equivalent to 4,000 Olympic swimming pools, to build the foundations for the new road. Last year, we moved a quarter of that amount.

This second year of construction will see yet more project milestones reached as well as work starting on new sections of the scheme’s 21 miles of road upgrade. A crucial but challenging part of the project will be the redesign of the Bar Hill junction, on which we will start work after Easter.

We need to build a completely new junction which will span eight lanes of A14 traffic as well as link with the future local access road – at the exact location of the old bridge, which is still being used by traffic every day. This will mean some disruption to local residents at times, though we are planning the work to minimise impact as much as possible and will make sure people are kept informed so they can plan ahead.”

Other work planned for the coming months includes the installation of beams across the A14 at Swavesey as part of the redesign of the Swavesey junction, where the current path of the A14 veers off to the south marking the start of the future Huntingdon southern bypass.

Work to widen the A1 from two to three lanes in each direction near Alconbury has also been progressing well and a section of the new southbound carriageway is planned to open to traffic by Easter.

Once again, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the roads users and local residents who use or live near the A14 for their patience,” David concludes. “We’re continuing to make great progress and the support we are getting from people locally means a lot to us.

The improvements we are delivering between Cambridge and Huntingdon are vital for the local area and for the country’s economy and we’re doing our best to make sure they are delivered to the highest standard, leading the way and showcasing best practice for future road investment projects as well as building a positive legacy for when the project is completed.”

For the latest information about the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, including job and training opportunities, visit www.highways.gov.uk/A14C2H follow @A14C2H on Twitter and like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/A14C2H/.

For more information about the A14 Community Fund and to apply, visit https://www.cambscf.org.uk/A14.html.

 

 

A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon: archaeology shines light on 6,000 years of history
August 11th, 2018

A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon: archaeology shines light on 6,000 years of history

 

A Roman trade distribution centre, an abandoned medieval village and three prehistoric monuments are among nationally significant archaeological discoveries uncovered by the team delivering the UK’s biggest road upgrade.

The sites have been uncovered by archaeologists working on Highways England’s £1.5bn scheme to upgrade the A14 between Cambridge to Huntingdon.

In total, around 350 hectares have been excavated – an area around half the size of Gibraltar – making it one of the biggest and most complex archaeological projects ever undertaken in the UK.

The finds mean experts now have a much better understanding of how the Cambridgeshire landscape was used over 6,000 years of occupation.

Dr Steve Sherlock, archaeology lead for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon project for Highways England, explains:

Highways England is delivering the biggest roads investment in a generation, and we are committed to conserving and where possible enhancing the historic environment.

In the context of a project like the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvements, that means undertaking archaeological excavations to ensure we record any significant remains that lie along the 21-mile route. The archive of finds, samples and original records will be stored so that the data and knowledge is preserved for this and future generations.

We now have the evidence to rewrite both the prehistoric and historic records of the area for the last 6,000 years.”

The approach to archaeology on the A14 underlines Highways England’s approach to protecting the country’s cultural heritage. Elsewhere, on the A1, work on another road upgrade recently uncovered new evidence pointing to Roman occupation in northern England earlier than previously thought.

Highways England is required by law to agree plans for how a scheme will deal with the effects it will have on its immediate environment, including local communities, wildlife and plants, and also any archaeological finds that may be found ahead of starting work on any new road or major upgrade.

On the A14 scheme, some 250 archaeologists led by archaeology experts MOLA Headland Infrastructure have dug more than 40 separate excavation areas, uncovering new information about how the landscape was used over 6,000 years and about the origins of the villages and towns along the A14 in Cambridgeshire today.

With most of the archaeological programme now being completed, finds so far date from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages, as well as Roman, Anglo-Saxon and Medieval periods. The sites uncovered include:

  • A Roman trade distribution centre which would have played a pivotal part in the region’s supply chain, and was linked to the surrounding farmsteads by trackways as well as the main Roman road between Cambridge and Godmanchester. The discovery of artefacts at the site relating to the Roman army indicates that this trade was controlled centrally.

  • The remains of 12 medieval buildings abandoned in the 12th century. Covering an area of 6 hectares, the entire layout of the village is discernible, with the earlier remains of up to 40 Anglo Saxon timber buildings and alleys winding between houses, workshops and agricultural buildings.

  • A massive Anglo-Saxon tribal territorial boundary with huge ditches, an imposing gated entrance and a beacon placed on top of a hill overlooking the region.

  • Three prehistoric henge monuments, which are likely to have been a place for ceremonial gatherings and perhaps had a territorial function. These impressive Neolithic monuments, measuring up to 50 metres in diameter, would have been very important places for our distant prehistoric ancestors. They retained their special significance over the millennia with evidence for later Anglo Saxon buildings at these sites.

Highways England has been working closely with Cambridgeshire County Council to ensure that areas of possible historical interest are investigated and preserved.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s senior archaeologist in the Historic Environment Team, Kasia Gdaniec, said:

The A14’s Archaeology Programme has exposed an astonishing array of remarkable new sites that reveal the previously unknown character of ancient settlement across the western Cambridgeshire clay plain.

No previous excavation had taken place in these areas, where only a few cropmarked sites indicated the presence of former settlements, but we now know that extensive, thriving long-lived villages were built during the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Saxon periods.

The valuable contribution of the A14’s excavation programme has also been to unlock major multi-period settlements and populate what had been an empty modern agricultural belt along the A1 west of Brampton with hundreds of people over time.

Earlier prehistoric Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and burial monuments that are 5,500 and 4,000 years old, have also been investigated, but the new Roman pottery industry that has emerged from sites in the Brampton area and at the new Great Ouse bridge sets apart the host sites from others traditionally dug in the county.”

The fast-paced archaeological excavations have been extremely challenging, especially during this relentlessly wet winter, but a very large, hardy team of British and international archaeologists successfully completed sites in advance of the road crews taking over to build the road structures.”

There is still more to do, but we want to share the archaeologists’ excitement over what they are finding with the wider public and hope that they will enjoy the ongoing displays and interpretation that will be a legacy of this national infrastructure project.”

Over the coming months, there will be opportunities for people to see the A14 archaeology work in action, more information is available at:

www.molaheadland.com/events/A14C2H