A14 upgrade to be toll road paid for by motorists

Congestion on A14
Image caption There are plans to introduce a toll road to upgrade part of the A14 through Cambridgeshire

The government has announced that our most congested road, the A14, will be tolled.

For the last eight months the government has been consulting on how best to ease congestion: its solution is a new piece of road, which drivers will pay to use.

The trunk road links the country's largest container port in Felixstowe, with the M1 and M6 motorways, from where goods are whisked to the rest of the country.

That's after spending many an hour in gridlock on the 130 mile length of the A14.

The stretch through Cambridgeshire between Cambridge and Huntingdon is particularly busy and that's where the changes will happen.

Tackling delays

South Cambridgeshire MP, Andrew Lansley, welcomed the news: "We all know we need the A14 to be rebuilt.

In tough times, if it's going to happen it can't just be paid for by the government - people who are using the road will have to dig into their pockets.

"The A14 has stopped Cambridge from growing and it's an impediment day by day to people going about their business," he added.

The plan to upgrade this vital artery through the region will cost up to £1.5 billion.

More then 100,000 vehicles a day travel through Cambridgeshire, a quarter of them heavy good vehicles.

Delays frustrate motorists and cost businesses a fortune.

John Bridge from Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce gave the plan a cautious thumbs up.

He said: "The business community is somewhat concerned about tolling but I think we believe it's a necessary evil if it is the only way we can get the road upgraded."

While the local MP for Huntingdon, Jonathan Djanogly (Con) had warmer words: "The east of England needs this road to develop the area and without it, particularly as the economy picks up, it's going to be an increasing problem, so it's important we get on with it."

'Innovative' solutions

For many years there's been talk about improving this road but every time, drivers hopes have been dashed.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The last scheme to improve the A14 was dropped because it was too expensive

The last scheme, backed by Labour, was dropped by the coalition because it was too expensive.

A toll road is obviously attractive to the government as it doesn't have to pay for the upgrade.

Private finance will stump up the money and and motorists will pay.

"HGV's can take the toll road and everyone else can use the local access roads," says Andrew Lansley.

"The government hasn't got a limitless supply of money. We need to think of innovative and exciting solutions, which this is."

The eastern region suffers from poor transport links, particularly east to west. No doubt this will go some way to help.

The government says it wants construction to start in six years time.

Isn't that after the next general election?