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A14 toll to fund congestion measures

The A14 is to become the first existing road to be tolled under Coalition plans to ease congestion, the transport secretary has announced.

The move comes despite the Prime Minister’s assurances in March that tolls would only apply to new routes, not existing roads.

The Government proposes that a 20-mile stretch of the busy road could be widened and enhanced, with tolls and taxpayer contributions to fund the scheme. The work would only begin in 2018 – a move many commentators have criticised.

The proposals also include a bypass around Cambridgeshire town and two new roads built in parallel to the A14 for local use.

Transport secretary Justine Greening said: “My department has been working hard to generate innovative and imaginative solutions to tackling long-term congestion and I am pleased to be able to unveil what we believe to be the best option for people living locally as well as those who see it as a lifeline to international markets.”

But many opposed the plan to toll an existing road, with Labour labelling it “another broken promise”.

AA president Edmund King said: “The prime minister said there would be no tolls on existing roads…This certainly contradicts the essence of the coalition agreement on tolling.”

Stephen Glaister of the RAC Foundation called for the congestion-easing work to start earlier. He said: “This investment has been desperately needed for a long time. It was ready to go when the Government pulled it in the spending review back in 2010.”

John Woodcock MP, Labour’s shadow transport minister, said: “Tolling existing roads is another broken promise to motorists who are being squeezed like never before by this out of touch government. Ministers need to spell out how many road users will be caught by the new tolls they are set to impose on existing roads.”

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