The start of the main construction work to widen the A14 is under way – and motorists are being warned that disruption is inevitable.
The section between Junctions 7 and 9 at Kettering will see the introduction of a contraflow and a series of ovenight closures.
During the first phase of the work the A14 will have two lanes running in each direction, although one lane of the eastbound traffic will be transferred to the other carriageway. Traffic management in some form will be in place 24 hours a day throughout the scheme, together with a 40mph speed limit enforced by average speed cameras.
Highways Agency project manager Mike Hall said: “The introduction of the contraflow should not impact on traffic flow but with a reduced speed limit we would advise people to allow an extra 15 to 20 minutes to get through the works.
“Road users should also consider allowing more time for their journey if it is likely to be affected by Network Rail’s closure of the A509 Pytchley Road bridge.”
Road users are also reminded that work on the M1 Junction 19 improvement at Catthorpe starts this month, which will also have an impact on A14 traffic.
The ongoing work on the Pytchley Road bridge is expected to be completed by Friday, February 28, when the road will re-open.
Road users, while generally accepting that the work is necessary, say the closure has caused havoc.
Kettering driving instructor Ian Humphreys said he had cancelled one pupil’s lesson when he realised they would not be doing much apart from sitting in queues of traffic.
He added: “Rush hour traffic in Kettering is already bad enough, but there have been some days since the Pytchley Road work started when it has been completely gridlocked.”
Chairman of the Kettering Taxi and Private Hire Association Myra Bale said: “I’m not looking forward to the schools going back. When the work started, just before the schools had broken up, it was completely chock-a-block in some parts of town.”
Network Rail says the bridge demolition work is an essential part of a £70m project which will reduce journey times to and from London on the Midland Mainline.
Kettering councillor Michael Brown said the disruption was necessary to allow the improvements, adding: “This is why Kettering Conservative councillors and our MP lobbied the Chancellor for £140m to improve the A14 so that it will be fit for purpose for the next 20 years. Without this work the road will be over capacity in a matter of years. It may be a very frustrating time in the short term but the long term economic benefits to the area will make it worth it.”