Thursday, 12 January 2012

A14 Update/ Briefing Note For Councillors


The following is the contents of a briefing note provided for County Councillors on developments regarding the A14 (this is a public note we're actively encouraged to circulate). The full text is below;

"THE A14 WIDER STUDY AND THE SHORT TERM MEASURES
BRIEFING NOTE FOR LOCAL MEMBERS-22/12/11


Members will have seen in the media various reports about the A14 Wider Study and associated with that, the announcement following the Budget Statement of £20m of ring fenced money to assist key congested points between Ellington and Fen Ditton. Also included are measures to help traffic avoid congestion caused by accidents and other incidents.


The A14 Wider Study
Following the withdrawal of the A14 Ellington to Fen Ditton scheme, the Government announced that it would lead a study which examined the congestion problems of the A14, taking account of the needs of strategic freight as well as the needs of locally based development traffic within Cambridgeshire.


To this end, the Department for Transport (DfT) has established and is chairing a steering group to oversee the study which will examine these issues, draw conclusions and make recommendations as how to address these problems. Apart from senior DfT civil servants, the Steering Group comprises representatives of the Highways Agency, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, and Suffolk County Councils, Huntingdonshire, South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City Councils, the Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough, New Anglia and Northamptonshire LEPS, and Felixstowe Port.


The study work is being undertaken in three phases. The first has been very quickly undertaken and has identified the main issues that any improvement schemes need to address.  The report can be viewed as the “A14” PDF report on the Department for Transport website at http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-20111212/


The following two phases of the study will see consultants examining and evaluating alternative ways of addressing those issues. This will lead to a programme of deliverable and fundable schemes which address the corridor’s problems. The Wider Study is scheduled to finish in June 2012.


The A14 “Challenge”
To coincide with the recent Chancellor’s statement, DfT launched its “A14 Challenge”. This document, “A14 Challenge –finding solutions together” can also be viewed as a further PDF at the above website and reaffirms the Government’s commitment to long term improvements for A14 travellers. The challenge is seeking ideas that are deliverable and can be shaped into comparable options. 


An area where ideas are especially sought is that of the finance of improvement measures, but whilst not ruling out the tolling of new or enhanced infrastructure, the Government would not expect to toll existing infrastructure.  The Challenge is open to suggestions of shared funding.  Whatever, the Government expects the price of new schemes to be considerably less than that of the withdrawn scheme, priced at some £1.2bn.


The timescale for Challenge indicates that it will conclude by the end of January and feed into the Wider Study. 


The Challenge Stakeholder Event   
To assist the Study process and feed into the Challenge, the Local Authorities will be staging a stakeholder event before the end of January. This will draw on the views of those with a significant interest in seeing the successful improvement of the different transport facilities in the A14 corridor.


The Ring Fenced £20m to Provide Short Term Measures
This money is intended to provide the Highways Agency and the County Council with funding to introduce a variety of measures which should give some assistance to the current congestion. The schemes being developed are:


1. Cambridgeshire County Council. The expansion of St. Ives’ Park and Ride site to the full size of 1,000 spaces included in the original Guide Busway orders.  The current usage of this site and experience of demand for parking at other sites, suggests that shortly demand may exceed supply on frequent occasions in the near future. The use of the Guided Busway instead of driving to Cambridge benefits traffic conditions on the A14.  The necessary land and the permissions have previously been granted for the completion of this site.


Also to be provided, are six real –time VMS signs on County roads leading from Huntingdon and Godmanchester to the A14 and on four County roads from Cambridge to the A14. The Council already operates two similar signs on Milton Road and the A10. These give real time information on any delays on the A14 and wider Trunk Road network. This approach enables many motorists to avoid trunk road congestion and would benefit trunk road traffic by not joining congested queues. The messages themselves will be co-ordinated with those of the Highways Agency, (see below). 


2. Highways Agency. A list of potential measures is to be examined for deliverability. These measures include alterations at the Spittals Interchange to smooth traffic flow both in a west and east bound direction. Between Bar Hill and Girton measures to improve the east bound traffic flow, especially in the morning peak period. These could involve provision of a “Tiger Tail” between the centre and near side lane to separate Huntingdon Road traffic travelling into Cambridge from A14 traffic. Additionally, measures to confine A428 east bound traffic to one lane as it approaches the Girton Interchange to enable a free flow lane onto the A14 Northern bypass, with the provision of an extra east bound lane to Histon Interchange will be investigated.


The Agency is also planning a “Minute Man” service to assist with the swift removal of breakdowns and series of mobile VMS signs to be co-ordinated with its existing signs elsewhere along the A14."