MP's concern over Cambridgeshire A14 toll road 'ruse'
Proposals to close a section of the existing A14 could be seen as a "ruse" to force drivers on to a planned new toll road, an MP has claimed.
The Highways Agency is proposing to build a new £1.5bn stretch of tolled road between Cambridge and Huntingdon.
Brian Binley, Conservative MP for Northampton South, said the current A14 should remain open to provide a choice for drivers.
But roads minister Stephen Hammond said there would be alternative routes.
The Highways Agency is currently consulting on proposals for the new Huntingdon Southern Bypass, expected to open by 2020.
End Quote Therese Coffey (Con) Suffolk Coastal MP
"I'm concerned that the A14 has been singled out for tolling”
It said car drivers would pay up to £1.50 to use the road with lorries paying double that sum. It would be the first new toll route in the UK since a 27-mile stretch of the M6 between Birmingham and Wolverhampton opened in 2003.
The plan put forward is for a new stretch of A14 between Ellington and Swavesey and a widening of the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury.'It's unacceptable'
As a result, the flyover close to Huntingdon Station would be demolished.
Mr Binley, whose constituency is served by the A14, welcomed proposals for the new road, but said he was concerned at plans to close the existing route.
"It should stay in place because we should give a choice," he said.
"After all, the taxpayer has paid for this road. They paid for the infrastructure and I don't think we should take it away on what is seen to be a ruse to get people on to a toll road.
"I find that unacceptable."
Therese Coffey, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: "I'm concerned that the A14 has been singled out for tolling, as opposed to all the other infrastructure improvements happening around the country."
But Ms Coffey, whose constituency includes the Port of Felixstowe, said the government had listened to some concerns about the road.
"At one point it was being suggested there wouldn't be any toll-free alternatives and that the toll would apply 24 hours a day. That's not the case," she said.
The AA has described plans to introduce tolls with possibly no alternative free route as a "double whammy".
Its president Edmund King said: "Many drivers will see the tolling proposal as the thin end of the wedge or Trojan horse to introduce wider tolling."
But Mr Hammond said: "There are alternatives for local people, and I think that's important.
"There is an alternative, of course, along the A428 and out along the A1 as well."