Plans to widen the A12 to three lanes that will help “unlock Essex’s economic potential” moved a step closer after the Government unveiled a £6.1 billion road improvements programme.
Essex County Council has welcomed the funding pledge from Transport Minister Jesse Norman, which forms part of the Government’s £23 billion upgrade to the nation’s road network.
It means crucial work to widen the A12 between Chelmsford and the M25 at Brentwood, plus work along the Colchester Northern bypass, is making sufficient progress for proposals to be developed before they go out to public consultation.
Upgrades to these sections of the A12 were originally announced in the 2014 road investment strategy as areas which required initial design work to be done, before work could begin in 2020.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and the cabinet member responsible for economic growth, said: “The A12 is the transportation backbone of Essex, so widening it to three lanes will have a huge impact that will help unlock the county’s true economic potential.
“Accidents on the county’s roads cause delays and congestion, which make journey times longer and increase costs for businesses, which in turn damages the local economy.
“By investing in our roads we can reduce congestion and more importantly improve safety, which will help make Essex a safer place for drivers, and a more attractive place to do business and drive economic growth.”
The council is waiting on the preferred routes to be announced for other projects on the A12 – the Brook Street roundabout (junction 28 of the M25) and the Chelmsford to Colchester widening schemes – both of which were exhibited to the public earlier this year.
Announcements on the preferred options are due over the summer.
Cllr Bentley added: “All Essex authorities affected by these plans gave their full backing to the proposed upgrades and are keen for work to begin as soon as possible.
“We urge the Government not to delay as they will be the first improvements to the A12 for more than a generation.”
Transport Minister Jesse Norman added: “Road users across England should soon be seeing the benefits of these improvements in their daily lives, which are designed to link people better with their jobs, friends, family and local amenities, as well as connecting businesses with customers.
“Over the next 6 months we expect to roll out our vital upgrade plan — taking next steps on £6.1 billion-worth of schemes and seeking to hear from local people, organisations and businesses to help shape our plans and ensure they benefit local communities.”