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A14 Borrow Pits

When Highways England’s A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme was officially announced, there was no doubting the challenge ahead.

However, thanks to meticulous infrastructure planning by the A14 integrated delivery team (IDT), a joint venture between Costain, Skanska, Balfour Beatty and designers Atkins/Ch2M, driving the initiative on behalf of Highways England, some two years on and the project is on course for its intended completion date in December2020.

A potential obstacle identified from the outset was the requirement for more than five-million cubic metres of additional fill material.

Although highways schemes generally aim to balance cut and fill requirements, this simply wasn’t possible along the route of the A14 owing to the area’s flat topography which couldn’t accommodate such volumes from the cuttings and other excavations on the development.

Having discussed three options to meet the challenge, which included imported fill and disused airfields, it was agreed that borrow pits adjacent to the route, offered the best solution.

Currently six borrow pits are in operation across the scheme, the strategic use of which means material is sourced locally, providing flexibility in supply, minimising additional traffic on local roads and reducing haulage distances.

Given the organisation’s daily presence on the local road network, not to mention its extensive fleet and quarry operating experience, local construction specialists Mick George Ltd was a natural choice as one of four contractors to have been awarded elements of the contract.

Following a rigorous tender process, this resource proved to be the best solution for the IDT. By optimising the return journey of existing Mick George Ltd deliveries to clients, carbon emissions can be reduced by up to 65%, minimising additional vehicle movements.

In May and June alone, Mick George Ltd was responsible for the transportation of more than 25,000 tonnes of materials from borrow pit 2 (Brampton) to other areas of the scheme. This equates to over 1,200 individual movements.

The company supplied a further 88,149 tonnes of material from their own quarries in the area, which reflects the sheer scale of the project. in progress.

The business is firmly integrated with the project, supplying concrete and waste management services exclusively, as well as contributing a large proportion of the aggregate supply.

Additional materials are needed to raise the alignment of the A14 and side roads on embankments, to construct the grade separated junctions, avoid flood plains and enable drainage, as well as providing mitigation embankments to help screen the highway from residents, all of which contributed to a large net deficit in fill material.

They said:

Michael George, Director of Contracting commented: ‘’A lot of forward planning has gone in to this project especially with regards to sourcing the necessary materials. Several areas adjacent to the route corridor have been strategically located. We’re extremely pleased to be playing our part in the movement of said materials, which will inevitably have a positive impact on the local environment over other potential contractors.’’


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