A14 Upgrade From Cambridge to Huntingdon: The Numbers After 1 Year
One of the largest road construction projects in the UK, the upgrade to the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, recently crossed the quarter-way point in November 2017 as a year was marked since the start of construction.
The main goal of the A14 project between Cambridge and Huntingdon is to improve 21 miles of road between the two towns, upgrading most of this space to 3 lanes. There is also a 17-mile bypass – comprised of 4 lanes in both directions – being constructed between Bar Hill and Girton (south of Huntingdon). The project will cost £1.5bn and – if deadlines are met – will be completed in March 2021. The goal of the project is to improve the local and national economy, as well as cut journey times by 20 minutes along one of the most congested commuter routes in the UK.
Completed Thus Far
As of November 2017, the construction team (which is more than 2200 strong) had worked an accumulative 3 million hours. In this time, over 2.5 million cubic metres of soil had been moved to create the foundations of the road upgrades.
Over 35,000 million cubic metres of concrete has been poured, with over 400 pieces of heavy plant (including 100 dump trucks) being used every day to make this possible.
Alongside the 21 miles of increased highway capacity and the 17-mile bypass, there will be a total of 34 bridges constructed, including a 750m River Great Ouse viaduct. The first of these bridges was completed and opened to the public in September 2017. A further 570 bridge piles, 104 bridge piers, and 74 bridge beams have also been installed.
Employment, Education, and Experience
A large focus of the project has been its contribution towards the local community and its young people, especially in terms of employment opportunities. At this point, the project has recruited the help of 22 apprentices and 44 recent graduates. 19 students have also currently gained work experience thanks to the project, and there have been 17 summer interns. It is estimated that this trend will continue with more interns and students being granted opportunities during the remainder of the A14 project.
As part of the A14 Community Fund, there has also been an emphasis on encouraging those out of work to return to employment by improving their job prospects. Six people have been helped into employment thus far.
A14 Community Fund
The A14 Community Fund has been designed to have a positive impact on local communities in and around Huntingdon and Cambridge – essentially following the stretch of A14 that is being upgraded – as a supplement to the infrastructural improvements this project will bring. At the quarter point through the project, £110,000 had been allocated to 16 local projects (out of an estimated total of £400,000 in total).
In addition to the initiative to provide employability skills to unemployed people in the area, almost £10,000 of funding has been provided for Rowan – a charity and art centre working with people with learning disabilities. Rowan has used that funding to help 68 student artists examine the connections between local communities through visual art. It’s estimated that more than 2000 people will benefit from the A14 Community Fund throughout the tenure of the road construction project.
Throughout the timeline of the project to upgrade the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, there will be 18 wildlife habitats built within the vicinity; thus far, 3 of these have been built. Within this, there were 5 owl boxes installed (with 14 more to follow) that were all used for nesting. Three of these birds successfully reared chicks. At completion, these wildlife habitats will cover a combined area of over 270 hectares.
This project has even been nominated as one of the five finalists in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2018 as part of the Conversation Success of the Year category thanks to these efforts.
Sustainability has been important throughout the project to upgrade the A14. The factor has been considered since the project’s conception, which is why 100% renewable energy is being used to power the project. This includes six solar lighting towers, which will save up to £23,000, and almost 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. By working sustainably, 3.2 million litres of water is saved each month during this project.
With any project that requires the excavation of land, there are going to be archaeological discoveries. As of November 2017, the archaeological team of 200 had uncovered over 25 settlements including those from the Iron Age as well as the Roman, Saxon, and Medieval eras. All of the archaeological work is to be completed by summer 2018.
The Past, the Present, and the Future
At the last significant update from Highways England, which provided the facts for this article, the project was on target to be completed by the end of 2020 (in-line with the proposed timescale).
Charles Wilson Engineers Ltd
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