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A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme

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Spring opening for Britain’s biggest road project
February 6th, 2020

Spring opening for Britain’s biggest road project

The new junction at SwaveseyBritain’s biggest road project is set to open to drivers more than half a year early, Highways England announced today (Thursday 6 February).

The £1.5 billion scheme to improve journeys between the East of England and the Midlands was originally planned to open to traffic by the end of 2020.

Today the Government-owned company said it plans to open the A14 improvement ahead of schedule this spring.

The good news follows the recent December opening of a part of the 21-mile scheme – a new 12-mile bypass south of Huntingdon – a whole year early. Already, the bypass has been used to make more than five million journeys.

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said:

“The A14 is a vital route used by 85,000 drivers every day and including more than 21,000 hauliers transporting essential goods around the country.

“Opening this scheme more than six months early and on budget shows what the UK construction industry can achieve working with Highways England on the Strategic Road Network. I would like to thank them for their focus on our joint success and for their one team approach.

“Also, I would like to thank road users, residents and stakeholders for their patience and support during our work. This road is not just a piece of national infrastructure – it brings benefits to the region and local towns and communities too.”

Roads Minister Baroness Vere said:

“I’m delighted that the A14 upgrade will open ahead of schedule, not only meaning drivers will benefit from quicker and safer journeys sooner, but also ensuring that key access between the region’s ports and the West Midlands will be boosted.

“Investing in key transport links such as this is part of this Government’s plan to level up access across the country, ensuring all regions are better connected and improving journeys for all.”

Work on the project began in November 2016, and has employed around 13,000 people in total, with up to 2,500 working on site during the project’s peak who have been working hard to deliver an early opening for traffic on the new A14.

Besides the Huntingdon southern bypass, the project includes an upgrade to the A14 between Swavesey and Milton, and a new local access road, the A1307, which runs parallel to it between Cambridge and Godmanchester. Approximately 24 miles of new routes for cyclists, walkers and horse riders are also included in the scheme.

The spring opening date will mark the end of permanent roadworks and reduced speed limits on the new A14 and the A1307, but the project team will still need to carry out a number of completion activities such as landscaping, installing some of the new technology, and work in the verges. To carry out this work safely, some temporary overnight closures or off-peak daytime lane closures will be needed.

The A14 transformation complements other improvements Highways England is delivering along this corridor, which is a key link between East Anglia, the UK’s busiest container port at Felixstowe, and the Midlands. In 2017 a £191 million improvement of the Catthorpe interchange, where the A14 meets the M1 motorway, provided free-flow links for the 150,000 drivers passing through daily, in addition to new pedestrian and cyclist routes.

Later this year Highways England expects to seek planning consent for proposals for a new dual carriageway A428 between Caxton Gibbet and the Black Cat junction with the A1 in Bedfordshire, and £300 million improving three junctions and upgrading three stretches of the A47 to dual carriageway between Peterborough and Great Yarmouth. There are further plans to add a third lane to the A12 between Chelmsford and the A120, and a multi-billion pound new Lower Thames Crossing to alleviate pressure on the Dartford Crossing, with the latest consultation into this now underway.

The A14 project has acted as a trailblazer for safety and environmental best practice, with measures including:
– sourcing much of the ten million cubic metres of earth need to build the road locally, and transporting it via haul roads along the project, to minimise use of the road network
– building bridges and bridge components at the side of the road before installing them to minimise the number of closures needed
– using 100% renewable electricity and non-potable water throughout the project
– trialling technology such as an autonomous dump truck and a line painting robot to reduce the risks to road workers on-site
– creating over one square mile of new, connected habitat for wildlife and planting more than 900,000 trees and shrubs – two for every one removed before work started.

The project team has also been running a dedicated project website and social media pages, as well as using a mobile visitor centre for face to face events, to share up-to-date information and discuss progress and issues with local communities.

Following the opening of the Huntingdon southern bypass, work began to dismantle the old A14 railway viaduct at Huntingdon, and new link roads are being built into the town. This work started in late 2019 and is on target to be completed by 2022.

The old A14, now known as the A1307 east of Huntingdon and along the Alconbury spur, and A141 west of Huntingdon, will be handed over to Cambridgeshire County Council once the project is completed. It will be used as a local access road running parallel to the A14 and serving the surrounding communities.

Construction on the project continues at pace to meet this ambitious deadline and information about progress and upcoming closures will be shared in advance via the project’s usual communications channels.

Amazing archaeological endeavours lead to award nomination for A14’s top archaeologist
January 20th, 2020

Amazing archaeological endeavours lead to award nomination for A14’s top archaeologist

Dr Steve SherlockMammoth tusks, rare Roman coins, and Britain’s oldest beer have all been among the amazing archaeological finds on Highways England’s £1.5 billion programme to upgrade the A14.

Now the award-winning work has received a further nod, with lead archaeologist on the project, Dr Steve Sherlock, being nominated for Current Archaeology’s 2020 ‘Archaeologist of the Year’ award. A win would see Dr Sherlock and the A14 team build on their success in the 2019 ‘Rescue Project of the Year’ category.

Steve’s work on the A14 started in 2017. Since then, he and his team have made numerous fascinating discoveries, all the while managing to not delay Britain’s biggest roads project, for which a key section, the new 12-mile Huntingdon bypass, opened a year early last month.

The Yorkshireman has worked on uncovering Britain’s past for over four decades, leading historical projects in his native Teesside, on which he has recently published a book, while also leading the way on major infrastructure projects.

Next up for Steve is the chance to explore thousands of years of history on the Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire border, leading archaeological work for Highways England’s A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvement.

Dr Sherlock’s career and achievements

Dr Sherlock did a degree in history at Stafford, before taking his Master’s at Birmingham, and then starting his PhD at Durham and completing it at Leicester. He started as an archaeological digger at Kimmeridge in Dorset work in 1979, excavating Roman finds and pottery for Wessex Archaeology.

Moving back to the North East, he became a digger supervisor for work at Redcar, Cleveland. He excavated his first major project, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Norton in 1984, among other projects, before starting work on at the A1 upgrade to a motorway from Wetherby to Walshford in 2003, when discoveries included finding an Iron Age chariot at Ferrybridge.

“I started my own research project in Street House in North Yorkshire, where we found a very rare Anglo-Saxon bed burial within the grave of a princess, evidenced by the gold brooches on her chest,” said Steve. “The work here really raised the profile of heritage in the area, and now they have heritage walks and a small museum is also being proposed there.”

Steve’s work on Operation Nightingale, a project working with injured military veterans working on archaeology excavations, saw him win the Teesside Heroes’ Award in 2015, shortly after he began work on the A1 upgrade to motorway between Leeming and Barton in 2014.

“We excavated a Roman town at Catterick and found a substantial amount of Roman and Iron Age remains at Scotch Corner, including very early coin “pellet” moulds.”

Work on the A14

Highways England tasked Dr Sherlock with leading its archaeological work for the A14, which hired up to 250 archaeologists at its peak.

“We needed to have a targeted approach to archaeology, and to do it to a high standard without holding up to delivery of the road. During our work we found three Anglo Saxon villages, 41 Roman pottery kilns with 215,000 shards of pottery weighing 2.8 tonnes, and 15 Iron Age and Roman settlements.

“Each of the three Anglo Saxon villages was of a different character: one a linear village beside the A1 at Brampton Hut, which was a Roman road at that time; the second a planned village at Houghton west of Brampton; and the third an enclosed hilltop settlement at Conington, which is translated as “King’s Town”, believed to be a border settlement on the frontier between the Dark Age kingdoms of East Anglia and Mercia.

“There were also Neolithic burial sites and seven Bronze Age burial mounds; in total there were almost 500 human remains from all excavations on the A14. We also found a Roman supply depot near Fenstanton, a Roman villa, and some 3.8 tonnes of animal bones.”

During the work, the team found the earliest evidence of beer brewing in Britain, with boiled grain remnants forming a mash indicating use in the fermentation process, dating back to 400 BC.

Another incredible discovery was a rare coin of the ill-fated Roman Emperor Laelianus, who, whilst he was campaigning on the continent, had the coin minted in Mainz. The usurper emperor arose as a contender for ruler of the splinter Gallic Emperor during the Crisis of the Third Century, and his reign lasted perhaps two months before being assassinated – meaning he was likely already dead before the coin was being used in Cambridgeshire.

Separate to the archaeologists’ work, digger operators were also careful when removing gravel from borrow pits – areas of lands rich with materials usable for construction – for use on the road to ensure they did not damage anything beneath. Their caution paid off, and among the items found in the pits were parts of 11 woolly mammoth tusks and three woolly rhino skulls, with parts of a further four all dating back to at least 40,000 BC.

“We found an abandoned Medieval village at Houghton,” Steve continues. “The general story with such villages is that they’re abandoned following the Black Death in the 14th Century, but this one seemed to have been abandoned earlier. There’s the suggestion that the nearby wood to the west was taken for use as the King’s estate, and with the locals unable to hunt animals, collect timber and forage within the wood where the village was, the settlement was no longer sustainable.

“In another location we found a Roman burial site where two of the burials had their legs removed below the knee. At first you think this may have been some macabre punishment carried out prior to death, but that would be more likely to occur during the Anglo-Saxon period, because this ‘punishment’ would be quite unusual during this Christian time. Skeletal analysis showed that they had not been sawed through and they had been removed post mortem, and scientific dating indicated the remains were Roman in date,

What’s next

Highways England is retaining the services of Dr Sherlock, who will next be starting work on the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvement, while maintaining oversight of categorising and recording the A14 finds with partners MOLA Headland as they compile and archive the finds and produce reports from the excavations.

“We know there are Roman and Iron Age sites along the A428, so I hope we’ll find more evidence for the Anglo Saxon and Medieval settlements in the area too. The gibbet (from Caxton Gibbet) in particular was often something that was used at parish boundaries as a warning to any criminals who may be entering – the body hanging there a Medieval version of ‘Please drive carefully through our village’.

“Having worked on the A14, there are lessons we can take to the A428, such as how we carried out the excavations, starting excavations earlier to focus the work and have areas ready for the construction teams, and all the experience from that earlier work. We can build on the collaborative approaches between the construction team, archaeological contractors, statutory bodies and other partners that have developed on the A14.

“There’s always a strong public interest in archaeology and heritage, in seeing what you excavate over the course of the construction. It’s good to work with the community and share what we have found of the local history. That’s something people can understand as it’s their area – when I did the dig in Catterick in 2013, I had people coming saying they visited the site when the Roman baths were dug up in 1959, and one lady who came even along with one of the decorated pieces of stone from the site then found later in her garden. On the bottom of the stone there was a Roman inscription there that hadn’t been seen before – we only found this out by talking to people in the village.”

Voting is currently open in all of the Current Archaeology awards categories. You can get full details and vote here: https://www.archaeology.co.uk/awards/archaeologist-of-the-year-2020.htm

Steve has just had his latest book published, A Neolithic to Late Roman Landscape on the North-East Yorkshire Coast: Excavations at Street House, covering the history of the area dating back over 6,000 years.

Time-saving road marking robot makes it a happy new year for drivers
January 2nd, 2020

Time-saving road marking robot makes it a happy new year for drivers

Image shows robot that helps to mark out where white lines are neededA clever little robot is saving drivers on England’s busiest roads from hundreds of hours of disruption.

The quirky machine uses precise positioning technology to mark out where white lines need to be painted on new or resurfaced roads.

The robot has already saved hundreds of hours of working time on various Highways England projects across the country, including Britain’s biggest road upgrade, the £1.5 billion A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme.

It also recently pre-marked eight miles of the M6 in Staffordshire in four hours. This work would usually take two engineers over a week to complete.

Savings elsewhere include saving 27 hours of working time marking three miles of hard shoulder on the M4 in Berkshire, 77 hours covering five miles of the M6 in Warwickshire, and six hours working on two miles of the M1 in Leicestershire, with further work done on the M60 smart motorway at Manchester.

Besides helping drivers, it also has safety benefits for roadworkers and enables them to focus on completing other essential work on each project.

Julian Lamb, construction director on the A14 where the robot has been used, said:

“We’re always looking at innovative new ways of working, which can help road users, and make our projects more efficient while supporting improved engineering. With safety our top priority, the time savings the robot can provide, coupled with removing our operatives from a potentially hazardous situation, make it a great solution.

“We’ve also been working with a self-driving dumper truck on the project, completing trials of these new technologies to help Highways England more deliver its ambitious programme of roads improvement quickly, safely and efficiently. These technologies are also supporting new jobs, with the engineers of tomorrow needing to learn new skills such as programming this autonomous equipment.”

Ordinarily, pre-marking road markings is a time-consuming job, calculating the positioning of the markings and walking several miles to spray or chalk them on the road. By using the robot, road workers spend far less time in the road and are at less risk of an accident – around 250 drivers illegally drive into roadworks every month, putting workers’ lives at risk. Bending down to pre-mark roads by hand can also raise the risk of back injuries. The robot also boasts improved accuracy and can mark the road faster.

The robot has been so successful, specialist contractor WJ, who adopted the technology for it to complete the pre-marking, has now invested in a second one to help complete more of its work. By completing roadworks faster, the robot will help contribute to the goals of reducing congestion, improving journey times, and supporting economic growth, while cost savings can be used to provide more or better-quality road-building materials.

Wayne Johnston, WJ Group Managing Director, said:

“I am passionate about changing the way we work in this industry and the WJ Robotic PreMarker represents a real step change. However, it is just a starting point, we will continue to invest in research and development to find better, more efficient and safer ways of working.”

The 12-mile Huntingdon Southern Bypass, which makes up around two thirds of the A14 upgrade, opened a year early, in December. Work on the rest of the project, between Swavesey and Milton, continues and is on schedule to completed as planned by December 2020.

On the first day of Christmas, the A14 gave to me…
December 20th, 2019

On the first day of Christmas, the A14 gave to me…

12 days of A14
Thank you to the Swavesey Primary School children for performing the Twelve Days of A14 Christmas song for us! Click to see their video.

Opening two thirds of Britain’s biggest roads project a year early is just one of the many milestones celebrated by the £1.5 billion improvement in 2019.

With the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon scheme now entering its final year, here is a festive look at some of those achievements that have been reached already – each with benefits far more real than pipers piping or partridges in pear trees.

Highways England project director David Bray said: “I hope that drivers are enjoying using the fantastic new road that opened on 9 December, and that this festive roundup of the many and varied achievements of the A14 team shine a light on the hard work that has gone into making it a reality. Our work continues into next year as we complete the widening of the existing A14 but for now I would like to wish all drivers on the A14 and our neighbours in Cambridgeshire’s local communities all the best for the Christmas and New Year break.”

Now Highways England has teamed up with the children of Swavesey Primary School to sing about the milestones of the A14 project in a festive video.

One state of the art A14

The 12-mile Huntingdon bypass opened to traffic in the early hours of Monday 9 December – a full year ahead of schedule.

The new bypass, which makes up around two thirds of the 21-mile improvement, will contribute towards shaving 20 minutes off journey times for the 85,000 drivers who travel between Cambridge and Huntingdon daily.

Work on the rest of the project, between Swavesey and Milton, continues and is on schedule to be completed as planned by December 2020.

Two landmark bridges

The A14 upgrade comprises two landmark bridges, which act as gateways through the project. One, which is based at Bar Hill, will be for use by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, and the other, at Swavesey, will be for use by pedestrians and cyclists. Both will link to new foot and cycle paths alongside the A1307 local access road which is currently being built, as well as into the existing path network.

Three Anglo Saxon settlements

The archaeological team working on the A14 found evidence of three Anglo Saxon villages, helping to further develop our understanding of life in Cambridgeshire after the Romans left Britain.

Each of the three villages was of a different character, with one a linear village along the A1 at Brampton Hut (which was then a Roman road), the second a planned village at Houghton, and the third a fortified hilltop village at Conington (which is Saxon for “King’s Town”) believed to be a border settlement between the Dark Age kingdoms of East Anglia and Mercia.

Four work compounds

The A14’s workforce has been spread across four site compounds along the length of the project, with two of these similar in size to a small village, such as the one at Brampton (pictured below).

Five new junctions

The new Huntingdon bypass provides extra links to and from the A14 for the surrounding local villages, with five new or significantly redesigned junctions added to the improved road.

Six new lanes

The new Huntingdon bypass now gives drivers three lanes to take in both directions, adding capacity to an important national road that had long suffered from congestion. When the project finishes by the end of 2020, the A14 will be three lanes in both directions along the whole 21 mile upgrade, with four lanes in each direction between Bar Hill and Girton.

Some 1,700 runners and cyclists were among the first people to set foot on the new A14 Huntingdon bypass on Saturday 12 October (pictured above), raising over £17,000 for local charities the East Anglian Air Ambulance and East Anglia Children’s Hospices by completing the A14 Great Ouse Challenge.

Seven Bronze Age burial mounds

Finding one burial mound dating back to 2,000 BC may be remarkable, but the A14 team found seven during the course of their excavations, including the one pictured below.

Further fascinating discoveries included the earliest evidence of beer brewing in Britain, dating back to 400 BC, and only the second coin of an ill-fated Roman Emperor to be found in Britain.

Eight miles of widening

The new 12-mile bypass to have opened between Swavesey and Ellington is only a part of the scheme, with the rest of the project seeing over 8 miles of widening of the existing road to include an additional lane added between Milton and Swavesey, and a redesigned Girton pinch point (pictured below) to simplify the ‘Spaghetti junction of the East’.

The A14 project will be completed by the end of 2020, benefitting the local economy by reducing journey times between Cambridge and Huntingdon by 20 minutes.

Nine hundred thousand trees

The A14 team have taken their environmental commitments seriously, and have planted two trees for every one that has had to be removed to allow the new road to be built – resulting in around 900,000 trees and shrubs being planted by the project.

Further environmental work has seen them care for ten protected species, including creating new habitats such as the one pictured above for water voles.

Ten million tonnes of earth moved

The A14 team have reduced the environmental impact of the project and improved sustainability by using local materials, with soil extracted from seven pits along the scheme then used to form the embankments needed to keep the new road above the floodplain.

Work in these pits has been carefully done, with excavator operators coming across finds including the 100,000 year old woolly rhino skull and woolly mammoth tusk, pictured above. This careful working has not slowed them down, with the total amount of earth moved the equivalent of around four Great Pyramids of Giza.

Eleven new roundabouts

As the new Huntingdon bypass opens, most of the old A14 will remain open, being handed over to Cambridgeshire County Council and becoming a part of the A1307. This road complements over 5.5 miles of local access road that has been built by the project, to ensure local residents are able to travel locally without the need to use the A14 if they do not wish to, and slow moving vehicles can maintain the access they need.

Most of these new roundabouts, including those pictured near Girton (above), connect this local access road to the various villages along the length of the new A14.

Twelve thousand jobs

At its peak, there were around 2,700 people working on the A14 project every day, with the scheme having already employed almost 13,000 people to date.

Their work has covered a huge range of specialisms, both administrative and operational, including working round the clock to finish work 24-hours early in mid-September 2018 when two 1,000 tonne bridges were lowered into place at Bar Hill, having been prepared beside the road in advance.

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

A14 Huntingdon bypass opens
December 9th, 2019

A14 Huntingdon bypass opens

New A14 Huntingdon southern bypass

A new 12-mile bypass to the south of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire has opened to traffic, Highways England announced today.

The new bypass runs between Ellington and Swavesey and is part of a project to upgrade 21 miles of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

With the new bypass now open, Highways England is confirming details of how the road layout has changed, and what drivers can expect on the new road.

The junction numbers on the A14 between Ellington and Bar Hill have changed as there are fewer junctions than on the old A14. The new A14 junction numbers are as follows:

  • New Ellington, junction 21
  • Brampton interchange, junction 22
  • Godmanchester and A1198, junction 23
  • Swavesey, junction 24
  • Bar Hill, junction 25

All A14 junctions east of and including Girton, as well as the A1 junctions, will maintain their existing junction numbers.

Drivers travelling eastbound on the new bypass will still have to join a section of 40mph narrow lanes roadworks from the Swavesey junction, so should look out for the signs when they approach the area.

The old A14 has now been closed in both directions between Godmanchester and the Spittals interchanges, to allow Highways England to start work to remove the existing viaduct over the railway and build new link roads into Huntingdon town centre. This closure will remain in place until 2022. Once work is completed, a new road layout will open with links to and from the old A14 in and out of Huntingdon instead of a viaduct over the railway station. Get more information about what is happening in Huntingdon here.

While all roads in and out of Huntingdon will remain open, there will be some overnight closures to complete this work, which will be communicated in advance and diversions signposted clearly. Road users who would normally travel from Huntingdon to Cambridge will now use the westbound A141 (former A14 west of Huntingdon) from Spittals roundabout towards Brampton Hut, access the A1 southbound and then join the new A14 eastbound free flow link at Brampton interchange.

Drivers seeking to access towns and villages along the A1307 (old A14 east of Huntingdon) between Godmanchester and Swavesey can do so by exiting the new A14 at its A1198, Ermine Street junction (junction 23), travelling north on the A1198 and joining the eastbound A1307.

Drivers seeking to travel from Cambridge towards Huntingdon will now head westbound on the new A14 to Brampton Interchange, use the free flow link to access the A1 northbound, before exiting at Brampton Hut and travelling east on the A141 (old A14) to to enter Huntingdon via Spittals roundabout.

The new A14 was designed with safety as the number one priority and its design is simple and intuitive. As with any major road, the main things to remember are to keep left unless overtaking, not to drive under a Red X, stick within the speed limit and know what to do if you breakdown. A red roundel around a speed limit means it is mandatory.

Slow moving vehicles will be prohibited from using the new bypass and will be directed to use alternative local access roads. It is not always possible to join or leave the new road in all directions at each junction. This is to ensure that long distance traffic on the A14 uses the most appropriate junction for its destination, avoiding smaller roads through local communities.

Work on the rest of the project, between Swavesey and Milton, continues and is on schedule to complete as planned by December 2020.

A14 bypass opening date revealed
November 5th, 2019

A14 bypass opening date revealed

New bypass in CambridgeshireA 12-mile bypass to the south of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire – part of the UK’s biggest road upgrade – will open to traffic on Monday 9 December.

The new bypass will run between Ellington and Swavesey and is part of a £1.5 billion project to upgrade 21 miles of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Last month, the Government announced that the bypass would open to traffic in December, a full year ahead of schedule. Now Highways England is setting out how the road layout will change, and what drivers can expect on the new road.

Highways England project director David Bray said:

“Opening the Huntingdon Southern Bypass is a huge achievement in the delivery of this major road upgrade and I’d like to thank road users, residents and stakeholders for their patience and support during construction. Opening the new bypass will start to unlock many of the project’s benefits and, together with the upgraded section of the A1 between Alconbury and Buckden which opened earlier this year, means that the western section of the transformed A14 is essentially complete. Like any new road, it will take some time for drivers to get used to driving on it, especially when the junctions have a new layout, and some have been renumbered. Please drive safely and enjoy the new road.”

From 9 December, when the new bypass opens to traffic, drivers travelling eastbound on the new bypass will still have to join a section of 40mph narrow lanes roadworks from the Swavesey junction, so should look out for the signs when they approach the area.

The new A14 was designed with safety as the number one priority and its design is simple and intuitive. Variable mandatory speed limits will help to manage traffic to reduce congestion and ensure safety. As with any major road, the main things to remember are to keep left unless overtaking, not to drive under a Red X, stick within the speed limit and know what to do if you breakdown. A red roundel around a speed limit mean it is mandatory.

Slow moving vehicles will be prohibited from the new bypass and will be directed to use alternative local access roads. Each junction has specific possible vehicle movements and it is not always possible to join or leave the new road in all directions, to ensure that A14 traffic uses the most appropriate junction for its destination, avoiding smaller roads through local communities.

The junction numbers on the A14 between Ellington and Bar Hill will change when the bypass opens, as there will be fewer junctions than on the old A14. New A14 junction numbers will be as follows:

  • • New Ellington, junction 21
  • • Brampton interchange, junction 22
  • • Godmanchester and A1198, junction 23
  • • Swavesey, junction 24
  • • Bar Hill, junction 25

All A14 junctions east of and including Girton, as well as the A1 junctions, will maintain their existing junction numbers.

You can view a map of the new bypass here.

Work on the rest of the project, between Swavesey and Milton, continues and is on schedule to completed as planned by December 2020.

Charity races on new A14 raise more than £17,000
October 15th, 2019

Charity races on new A14 raise more than £17,000

Runners take part in the A14 Great Ouse challengeSome 1,700 runners and cyclists were among the first people to step foot on the brand new A14 Huntingdon bypass on Saturday, raising thousands for local charities.

The budding athletes were taking part in the A14 Great Ouse Challenge on Britain’s biggest roads project, ahead of it opening to drivers later this year.

Together, they raised over £17,000 for local charities the East Anglian Air Ambulance and East Anglia Children’s Hospices in the process.

Last week, roads minister Baroness Vere announced that the new 12-mile bypass – part of a 21 mile, £1.5bn upgrade for the A14 – would open to traffic in December, a full year ahead of the original schedule. The nearly-finished road was a perfect setting for a series of races, organised and marshalled by Highways England staff working on the project who were keen to give something back to local communities with the fund raising event.

The day saw a mixture of races, first with wheelchair athletes and then cyclists completing their choice of seven kilometre or 14km courses, with runners then able to tackle the same distances, or a children’s 1.4km fun run, in the afternoon.

Pam Hobson, race director and A14 stakeholder director said:

“It was great to see so many people turn out to support this community event. With a variety of distances available, we had people of all ages and abilities taking part. Memorable moments included seeing one of our 14-kilometre runners proposing to his girlfriend upon finishing, and seeing his delight when she said yes. We also saw a two-year-old girl running with her mother to raise over £2,200 for a stroke charity, as her father had suffered from a stroke recently. Another young girl completed the bike ride, raising more than £500 for Hedgehog Protection.

“The feedback we had from those taking part was universally positive, and people really enjoyed this once in a lifetime chance to experience the new road before it opens to traffic. I want to thank all our athletes for taking part, my colleagues and partner organisations who contributed to and volunteers at the event, and our organising partners HaverSports, St Ives Cycles, Huntingdonshire Athletics Club, and Living Sport.

“The new A14 will do so much to connect and improve communities along the whole route, but we do appreciate it’s not easy living beside such a big construction project, and this is a great opportunity to give something back, both by giving local people the chance to experience the new road before it opens, and also raising more money for local charities, with the project having already raised over £500,000 for local good causes since work started.”

Georgina Forbes, community fundraiser for the East Anglian Air Ambulance said: “It was great to see people of all ages and abilities taking part and experiencing the new A14. I want to thank the Highways England team for putting on this event to help raise thousands for the important work we do in saving lives across the region.”

Lottie Driver, corporate fundraiser for East Anglia Children’s Hospices, added: “It was a really enjoyable day, and particularly pleasing to see so many young people taking part to support our charity. Thanks to the A14 team for their support of our charity and helping us continue to support young people with debilitating and terminal illnesses across the region.”

Upgrading the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon will transform journeys between, in and around Cambridge and Huntingdon. The project will add capacity, boost the local and national economy and cut up to 20 minutes off journeys for the 85,000 drivers who use the road daily.

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/