Highways England awards Skanska £507m road building contract

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Highways England has awarded Skanska a £507m contract which will see the company design and build the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements scheme, which will include 10-miles of dual carriageway.

The new road will link the A1 Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire to the A428 Caxton Gibbet roundabout in Cambridgeshire. Both existing roundabouts will also be upgraded into modern, free-flowing junctions and a new junction added at Cambridge Road, near St Neots. 

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.

“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,” says Lee Galloway, Highways England A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvements interim project director. “We’re extremely excited to be working alongside Skanska as we move through the design stages of this project and onto starting main construction.”

Skanska will lead on the project, working in close collaboration with design partner Mott McDonald and Highways England. The contract was awarded through Highways England’s Regional Delivery Partnership framework.

“We’re delighted to have agreed this contract with Highways England which will deliver lasting benefits to the region. It builds on our long-standing and trusted relationship with Highways England, through which we have delivered many successful projects,” says Jonathan Willcock, MD of Skanska’s infrastructure business. “We know the area well and will work closely with communities along the route to help keep the roads running during the works while providing training and job opportunities for local people – helping to deliver a lasting legacy.”

A number of junction improvements will also be made, including a new triple-decker junction at Black Cat roundabout allowing free flowing traffic onto the A1 and the new dual carriageway. It will also create better routes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders and improve connections to St Neots and its train station.

An artists’ impression of how the new triple-decker Black Cat roundabout

Around 25,000 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 project is being led by Skanska, working in close collaboration with design partner Mott McDonald and Highways England. Skanska won the work through the Highways England Regional Delivery Partnership (RDP) framework, for which it is a Delivery Integration Partner for the East of England and Midlands regions.

Highways England submitted its application for a Development Consent Order to the government’s independent planning authority, the Planning Inspectorate, on 26 February 2021. The Planning Inspectorate has 28 days to decide whether to accept the application for consideration. The pre-examination period and examination period then follow with a decision expected in 2022.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).