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Insights When Atkins India became a part of the A14’s road history altering project

Being one of United Kingdom’s cardinal routes, the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon (A14 C2H) improvement scheme included a major new bypass to the south of Huntingdon - a 21 mile road augmentation program. The construction work on the project, which was officially started in November 2016, is complete and the route is now fully operational, eight months prior to the scheduled completion timeline.

Image of cars on the A14

Image Courtesy: Highways England

The ambitious project 

Making history as the biggest road projects in the UK, the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme now makes an indispensable route for nearly 85,000 drivers transporting essentials in and around the UK. One of the most challenging projects that has been undertaken by Atkins, the A14 made a milestone achievement, by delivering the project eight months earlier than its scheduled time, even in the wake of the    Covid-19 pandemic.

Its significance

The intent behind the inception of A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon (A14 C2H) improvement scheme was to cut down the travel time, thereby increasing the reliability, easing the traffic congestion, and eventually enhancing the commercial growth of the local community. The detailed design of A14 was assigned to Atkins and CH2MHill joint venture as part of the Collaborative Delivery Frame-work (CDF).

Atkins’ role in this project

Atkins, as a part of the Integrated Design Team commissioned by the Highways England, led to the preparation of the full business case for the £1.5bn scheme to upgrade the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon on behalf of Highways England. Atkins’ Global Design Centre (GDC), in India was assigned to deliver the detailed design of Sections 3B, 4A and 5. The project’s scope included the validation of the preliminary design, design and deliverables for the contractor’s pricing as well as for the construction. Approximately 80 resources from various disciplines in the GDC such as Highways, Structures, Drainage, Geotech, Lighting, GIS and Landscape worked on this prestigious project for 18 months. Our multi-discipline team, comprising of Murali Balla - GDC PM, Anil Veernapu - Highways Lead, Debabrata Mukherjee – Bridges, Anindya Chattopadhyay, Amita Mantri, Smita Sawdadkar – Drainage, PMO - Shaik Karimulla, Monika Nair – Landscape and Abhishek Jain – Geotech, worked collaboratively to deliver the designs.

Once the designs were completed, the team from our UK offices were thereafter stationed at site for supporting the contractor’s site team, The construction work on the project required the employment of over 14,000 people in total, who worked for almost 14 million hours to deliver an early opening for the traffic on the new A14 route.

Key highlights of the project 
For the reasons of safety and adopting the best environmental practices, the A14 team undertook the following measures:
  • The procurement of raw materials, particularly the earth, was done from the nearby areas, that eventually reduced the number of trips to transport them from far off places.
  • The road closure period for the project was reduced to a minimum by undertaking a majority of work, off the roads.
  • Ensured that renewable electricity and non -potable water is used, until the delivery of the project
  • So that the ecosystem is rendered to its previous state, the project team planted more than 900,000 trees and shrubs.

Under the Archaeological inquiry which is an integral part of major infrastructural projects in the UK, some major findings were unearthed during 40 separate excavations by a team of 250 archaeologists. The project was given the “Rescue Project of the Year” award in the 2019 Current Archaeology Awards. 

The successful completion of this project not only creates an economic significance but also reflects the positive impact of making anything possible through collaboration, even if it is during an unprecedented lockdown.