Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Lib Dems call for scaled down A14 project to save lives

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats are calling for a new smaller A14 upgrade which could be started in the next four years and funded from the government’s highways budget.

They want the project sufficiently scaled down so that it could be given the go-ahead when the government’s next Spending Review begins in 2014 and paid for with money from the Highways Agency budget.

“This is the only way that we are going to stop people dying and being injured on this road,” said Susan van de Ven, Lib Dem Transport Spokesperson. “For the last 10 years, the Conservatives have pursued a project that is nothing more than a fool’s errand.

“By holding out for a gold-plated scheme for all these years the Conservatives have failed to deliver even the most basic safety improvements for local people. Now we learn that if they continue to push for a massive upgrade we will have to wait another 10 years before anything happens.

“Ten more years of accidents and deaths is not a policy we can support.  Now we have to face facts and come up with a realistic scheme which can be commissioned and built quickly." 

Liberal Democrats are asking Cambridgeshire County Council to back their call at its next meeting today.

In a motion to council, they pointed out “the repeated failure of the massive £1.2 billion, 10-lane superhighway upgrade to the A14 to get government funding”.

And they reminded members of the road’s poor safety record, especially in relation to accidents involving heavy goods vehicles. There were 924 recorded accidents on the stretch of the road between Hinchingbrooke interchange and Girton alone between 1999 and 2010.

Kevin Wilkins, Lib Dem Planning, Enterprise and Environment Spokesperson said: “We have always maintained that trying to build a way out of trouble with more concrete and more traffic lanes was totally unrealistic. Not only would it just invite more traffic, but the impact on the environment would have been immense.

“A smaller scheme which could bring junctions on the A14 up to motorway standard and improve the roads ability to cope with minor accidents by allowing vehicles to be removed quickly could go a long way to making it safer.

“In the last 10 years, the county has pushed for a project which was going nowhere, not least because there simply no money to pay for it; at the same time people were dying on this road almost every week. That is a situation which is totally unacceptable and enough is enough.”