Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is putting measures in place to ensure traffic into and out of the town flows as smoothly as possible during the summer season after encountering delays by utility companies which will see some outbound street works activity continuing into summer.
Work by National Grid to divert their gas main was scheduled to take three weeks to complete. However, it has subsequently taken 16 weeks to complete their work. This has caused a knock-on delay to other utilities work that needs to be carried out at the junction. As much as possible, we have focussed our work on areas of the highway that are not affected by the gas mains diversions, predominantly in the north (Southend-bound) side of the junction. Over 80% of the work is still scheduled for completion in mid-June. However, the result of this unforeseen delay is that we will need to continue some work on the south (London-bound) side of the junction through to September.
Though these utilities delays were beyond our control, we have worked up a revised programme with our contractor, Eurovia, which aims to minimise disruption to traffic during the peak season. Work on inbound carriageways is still scheduled to complete before the summer but there will now be some off-peak closures of single lanes on the London-bound carriageway during the summer period.
We have put the following arrangements in place to minimise pressure on the A127 during busy holiday periods.
End-of-May school holidays
In consideration of the impact of lane closures during these busy periods, there will be two lanes Southend-bound kept open throughout the day. On the London-bound carriageway, there will be no peak lane closures and Eurovia will also endeavour to keep off-peak (09.30 – 15.30) lane closures to a minimum.
Summer school holidays
All lanes will be completed on the Southend-bound carriageway before the summer holidays. Some off-peak lane closures may still be necessary at times but a minimum of two lanes on the Southend-bound carriageway will be kept open throughout the day. On the London-bound carriageway, there will be no peak lane closures and Eurovia will also endeavour to keep off-peak (09.30 – 15.30) lane closures to a minimum.
We are currently asking companies to submit bids for the replacement of the footbridge over the A127 at Kent Elms. We anticipate that the bridge will be assembled offsite and swiftly constructed in modules in the autumn. This will keep the number and duration of lane closures to a minimum at this point. We have made a commitment to keeping school crossing patrols in place during term times until a new footbridge is in place.
Cllr Tony Cox, Executive Cllr for Transport, Waste & Cleansing, said:
“We appreciate that this delay in the project will be a concern for some local residents and businesses in Southend. Whilst this news is disappointing and beyond our control, our response is to keep traffic flowing into the town as best we can in order to support the local economy. We remain committed to completing the project as swiftly as possible and with as little disruption as possible for local residents, businesses and visitors.
“Once complete, this project will better manage current and future traffic levels at this important junction into our growing town and it is important not to lose sight of the important benefits of this work.”
We will be holding discussions with local councillors and stakeholders over the coming days.
Further updates will be posted to our Better Southend webpage (www.southend.gov.uk/bettersouthed) as a new work programme is agreed.