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