Highways Agency wastes £37 million on road project


A staggering £37 million of taxpayers’ money has been wasted on a road to nowhere after the project was scrapped after years of planning, it emerged today.

Highways Agency wastes £37 million on road project

The Highways Agency spent £36.8 million during eight years of planning and consultation to upgrade and widen the A14 in Cambridgeshire.

However, the project – which would have cost £1.3 billion to complete – has now been scrapped for being too expensive, despite the fact that no bricks have been laid.

The plans were dumped in the coalition Government’s spending review but the wasted cash was only revealed today after a Freedom of Information request.

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has slammed the scheme as an ”appalling” waste of money.

He said: ”It is appalling that the taxpayers of this country have been forced to pay almost £37 million on a scheme which would have created more problems than it solved.

”It is obvious this money could have been far better spent. But for 10 years the Labour government relentlessly pursued this road project racking up the cost, despite our calls to look at cheaper, faster alternatives.

”We have always proposed a smaller scheme which would have addressed the safety issues at a fraction of the cost and could have been in place now, saving lives.”

TaxPayers’ Alliance director Matthew Sinclair also criticised the ”incredible” waste.

He said: ”It is an incredible waste for millions of pounds to be spent on planning for a road project where construction is never even started.

”This is one of the prices we pay for massive, unsustainable rises in spending that we just can’t finance.

”It also raises further questions over the Government’s pursuit of major projects like a new high speed line that will benefit only a well off few when so many humbler schemes are under threat.

”Politicians need to set more realistic plans for public spending so this kind of waste isn’t repeated.”

The project to widen the A14 in both directions between Fen Ditton and Fen Drayton, Cambs., was announced in April 2003.

A new dual carriageway between Fen Drayton and the A1 would also have been created.

Since April 2003 the Highways Agency paid out a total of £36.7 million of taxpayers money on the project.

The majority, £29.5 million, was spent on detailed designs, publication of draft orders, and preparation for the public inquiry – which never happened.

A further £7.3 million was spent on consultations and deliberations prior to awarding the contract to Costain and Skanska.

Cambridge County Council paid £37,800 on a study of a viaduct in Huntingdon, Cambs., and £23,200 in preparation for the public inquiry.

Huntingdonshire District Council spent £5,650.

A Highways Agency spokeswoman denied that the money has been wasted.

She said: ”We recognise the A14 corridor faces severe congestion, and that mobility along the route is critical for economic success and growth.

”The Department for Transport announced in October they would undertake a study to identify cost effective and practical proposals which bring benefits and relieve congestion on the A14, looking across modes to ensure we develop sustainable proposals.

”We expect the work done to date will be useful in informing this study.”


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