Drivers face new A14 toll road

A14The UK's first toll road in a decade could be built as part of a scheme to combat traffic jams.

Drivers could be charged between £1 and £1.50 to travel along a new stretch of the A14 in Cambridgeshire, according to a consultation document published by the Highways Agency.

The proposal comes after Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Autumn Statement that the Government would explore whether "in very limited circumstances" tolling could be used to fund significant new capacity on the country's roads.

It is part of a £1.5 billion scheme to improve a heavily congested 25-mile stretch and 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 Highways Agency said: "The use of tolls to finance major highway infrastructure projects is not new in Britain and is the means by which the Queen Elizabeth Bridge at Dartford, the M6 Toll, and the Second Severn Crossing were all funded.

"Not every new road project needs to be funded in this way but because of the scale and cost of the A14 scheme the Government believes it is fair that road users should make a direct contribution towards the cost of improvement.

"Toll revenue is an essential component in the business case for this road scheme."

The improvements, aimed at stopping hold-ups around Cambridge and Huntingdon, are expected to cost £1.6 billion.

If approved, construction would begin in 2016 and last three or four years.

The toll would apply to vehicles travelling on a new stretch of road between Ellington and Swavesey, between 6am and 10pm, seven days a week.

There would be no toll plazas with vehicle being charged using automatic number plate recognition cameras, similar to those used to enforce the London congestion charge.

"Most through-traffic is expected to use the toll road as this will provide the fastest and most economical route," the document adds.

"However, there exist a number of alternative routes that are likely to be used by local traffic and a small proportion of through-traffic."

The scheme also involves widening the A1 between Alconbury and Brampton but this would not be covered by a toll.

The consultation will allow the public to express views on the best way to collect tolls but not on the principle of tolling.

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