Plans to kick-start the major improvements needed to clear tailbacks and improve safety on the A120 moved closer – as Essex County Council’s set the ball rolling on the feasibility study to deliver new options for the alignment of the route between Braintree and the A12.
The study will lead to a range of new options being put forward for consultation to agree the alignment of the preferred A120 dual carriageway route between Braintree and the A12 (with a road of equivalent status to the section of the A120 between Braintree and the M11). The group will provide clear local oversight of the project and ensure that it is responsive to local needs and proactively engages with communities.
The A120, which is still partly single carriageway despite being one of the busiest roads in the county, is a regular frustration for commuters as they queue on both sides of the carriageway.
Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Cllr Rodney L Bass, said: “Improvements to the A120 are critical to easing congestion and improving safety – the road simply wasn’t built to carry the volume of traffic it does now. The first Members Forum meeting was an excellent start. We know this is an important improvement to both motorists and residents alike, so part of the reason we set up the A120 Members Forum was to ensure that we cultivate regional political support to ensure people are kept informed and allow them to give us their views. We have a lot of work to do. I expect the engineering feasibility work to be completed toward the end of 2016, and then once the various options are worked through we will put them out for consultation.”
The Members Forum includes attendance from local MPs as well as Councillors from Braintree and Colchester Councils, and the Chairman of the Haven Gateway Partnership – a long-standing champion for A120 improvements.
The Council plans is fast-tracking the feasibility process so it can be put forward for the 2020-2025 road investment strategy by Highways England in late 2017. The Council is planning to start community engagement in early 2016 – before any shortlisting of options. The public consultation is anticipated to launch before the end of 2016, with the final recommended options will be ready in autumn 2017.