A14 bypass section in Cambridgeshire opens a year early

The A14 Huntingdon bypass. Image copyright Highways England
Image caption The bypass (pictured looking south) includes a 750m (2,500ft) viaduct to carry the new A14 over the River Great Ouse between The Offords and Brampton

A 12-mile (19km) stretch of a £1.5bn road improvement scheme has opened to traffic a year ahead of schedule.

Work on the new Cambridge-Huntingdon dual carriageway began in November 2016 and the entire 21-mile (34km) route is due to be ready by the end of 2020.

The section between the A14 at Swavesey and the A1 at Brampton is finished and ready for traffic.

Once fully opened, Highways England said journeys between Cambridge and Huntingdon would be 20 minutes faster.

Drivers were warned they would need time to get used to new junction layouts and renumbering.

'Excellent progress'

Project director David Bray said: "Opening the new bypass will start to unlock many of the project's benefits and, together with the upgraded section of the A1 between Alconbury and Buckden, which opened earlier this year, means the western section of the transformed A14 is essentially complete."

As well as the bypass, the scheme includes widening the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury, widening the existing A14 between Swavesey and Milton and improving the junctions at Bar Hill, Swavesey, Girton, Histon and Milton.

Image copyright Highways England
Image caption The 12-mile stretch between Swavesey and Brampton is now open to traffic

Last month, it was announced contractors had made "excellent progress" and the bypass would open to traffic in the early hours of Monday, 9 December, a full year ahead of schedule.

Variable mandatory speed limits are being used to help reduce congestion, and slow-moving vehicles will be directed to use alternative local access roads.

Police tweeted a photo of what they said was the first crash on the road, between a lorry and a car at about 12:28 GMT.

They advised drivers to "follow the signs and not your sat-navs and remember the road layout has changed".

Image copyright BCH Road Policing
Image caption Police at the scene of the new road's first crash

The old A14 through the area will be reclassified as a local road after Monday's opening, but the section between Godmanchester and the Spittals interchange at Huntingdon will be permanently closed.

This will allow work to begin to remove the Huntingdon viaduct and build new link roads in the town centre, which is expected to be completed in 2022.

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