Plans to transform the Black Cat Roundabout edge closer

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Caption: Once complete, the Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire will have three tiers

A congestion hotspot in Bedfordshire could undergo a dramatic upgrade as Highway England’s proposals to overhaul the dual carriageway linking the A1 to the A428 at Caxton Gibbet have been formally accepted.

The proposals – which include the Black Cat Roundabout – were today (Wednesday) formally accepted by the Planning Inspectorate for examination.

Highways England’s plans will see the creation of a new 10-mile dual carriageway linking the A1 Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire to the A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabout in Cambridgeshire.

Both existing roundabouts will be upgraded into modern, free-flowing junctions and a new junction added at Cambridge Road, improving access to St Neots and its train station.

The project replaces the only remaining section of single carriageway between Milton Keynes and Cambridge and tackles one of the region’s most notorious congestion hotspots.

Congestion on the A421 and A1 is a common sight on the approach to the Black Cat roundabout

While this is a major milestone for the scheme, the new road layout is by no means in the bag.

The Planning Inspectorate will now start the process of a full examination of Highways England’s proposals before deciding whether to grant a Development Consent Order, which will help to inform the Secretary of State for Transport when deciding whether to give the green light for construction to begin.

Lee Galloway, Highways England A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet Improvements Interim Project Director, added: “The A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements scheme will transform one of the busiest road links in the East of England, helping to save drivers who live, work and travel in and around Bedfordshire and Cambridge an hour-and-a-half on their journeys every week.”

Housing and job growth

Around 24,000 vehicles travel on the A428 between Cambridge Road and Caxton Gibbet every day.

With considerable local housing and job growth expected, this number is likely to increase to around 33,000 vehicles by 2040.

The scheme also includes the creation of better routes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders and improved connections to St Neots and its train station.

Mayor Dave Hodgson, Chair of England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) Strategic Transport Forum said: “Delivery of the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet scheme is identified in our recently published Transport Strategy as a regional priority.

“EEH is committed to working with Highways England to ensure its delivery at the earliest opportunity.

“Last year’s consultation by Highways England showed the high degree of public support for the scheme which will ease the congestion and delays suffered daily by our residents and businesses, increasing the resilience of the network, and supporting economic growth and the ambitions of current Local Plans.

“The Planning Inspectorate’s decision to accept Highways England’s submission is another positive step on the way to the scheme being delivered to the benefit of both the regional and UK economies.”

The Planning Inspectorate’s examination process will provide people with the opportunity to comment on the proposals in writing as well as the chance to participate in hearings.

Following the examination, the Planning Inspectorate will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport, who will decide whether the project can move forward with construction.

More information about the Development Consent Order process can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s website.

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