Groundbreaking ceremony marks start of construction on A428 highways scheme

Press release 13/12/2023 10:01 CET

Skanska starts construction on major billion-pound road upgrade for National Highways

(From L to R) Gareth Moores (NH), Charlie Bell (Mott MacDonald), Chris Taylor (NH), Nicola Bell (NH), Katy Dowding (Skanska), Willie McCormick (Skanska), Lee Galloway (NH)
Photo from L to R: Gareth Moores (NH), Charlie Bell (Mott MacDonald), Chris Taylor (NH), Nicola Bell (NH), Katy Dowding, Willie McCormick, Lee Galloway (NH)

Construction works on this major road infrastructure project took a momentous step forward yesterday (13 December) with a symbolic groundbreaking ceremony.  

In a significant milestone for local, regional and national transport infrastructure, Transport Minister and MP for South Cambridgeshire, Anthony Browne, took the first ceremonial spadefuls of earth marking the start of main construction at an event held at the heart of the project, the A1 Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire. 

Skanska is responsible for the design and build of this flagship National Highways scheme, which will lead to the creation of a new 10-mile dual carriageway linking the A1 and A421 Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire to the A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabout in Cambridgeshire. Both existing roundabouts will be upgraded into modern, free-flowing junctions with a new junction added at Cambridge Road, improving access to St Neots and its train station.      

The upgrades promise to transform the region by enhancing connectivity, alleviating congestion, and improving road safety. The billion-pound scheme will improve journeys between Milton Keynes, Bedford, and Cambridge, bringing communities together and supporting long-term growth in the region. 

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, said: “I’m delighted we have marked the start of works on the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet project, a huge investment by the government to grow the economy in the region and reduce congestion for drivers.

"This government is backing drivers by investing in much-needed road projects like this, using savings from HS2 to resurface roads across the country, and introducing a long-term Plan for Drivers to slam the brakes on anti-car measures.”

The Transport Minister was joined by representatives from Skanska UK, including President and CEO Katy Dowding, as well as National Highways representatives and the Mayor of Bedford Borough – underlining the collaborative spirit and support for the much-anticipated scheme.

Commenting at the ceremony, Katy said: “Today marks an important moment for all involved in this highways scheme. Achieving this milestone wouldn't have been possible without the huge commitment of the project team, the support of our customer National Highways, our partners, stakeholders and the invaluable contributions from the local communities. We are now very much looking forward to getting started.”

When complete, the upgrade will help drivers save up to an hour-and-a-half on their journeys every week. Around 25,000 vehicles travel on this stretch of road every day. With considerable local housing and job growth expected, this number is likely to grow to 33,000 vehicles by 2040. 

Nicola Bell, National Highways Executive Director for Major projects, said: “This project highlights National Highways’ commitment to delivering major projects that make lasting impacts for people, communities, and businesses.

"The start of construction represents a culmination of meticulous planning, collaborative efforts, and a steadfast commitment to enhancing the nation’s infrastructure.
 We are proud to be part of a project that will lay the foundations for a more resilient and connected future.” 

Willie McCormick, Project Director Skanska UK, added: “We are delighted to be starting main construction on this hugely important scheme for the region. We are fully committed to working with local residents and businesses – keeping them informed and helping people to benefit from the opportunities the project will offer. We are proud to be delivering a scheme that will connect communities and leave a lasting positive legacy in the region.”

The project will also improve travel for walkers, cyclists, and horse riders, with better footpaths and safer crossing points.  

The scheme is expected to open to traffic in 2027.