May 22 2013 Latest news:
By Chris Harris
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
FRESH optimism has emerged behind a £500million dream to dual the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey.
Essex MP Priti Patel has this week had constructive talks about resurrecting the scheme with roads minister Stephen Hammond.
The long-standing project - the final piece in the jigsaw of having a dual carriageway linking the A12 with Stansted Airport - was abandoned in 2009 after regional transport bosses said it was “simply unaffordable”.
“I’m optimistic because the Government are listening to us,” said Ms Patel. “But we have got a long way to go in terms of securing Government money. The real challenge is how we can fund the scheme. We’re going to have to look to the private sector.”
But the Witham MP ruled out the road being funded through tolls - the Government has already announced the improvements to the A14 in Cambridgeshire will be financed this way.
“The Treasury will no doubt have a view about the funding models but the days of massive Government-funded projects are long gone.
“The A120 is a vital economic link for businesses in my constituency and throughout Essex but the single carriageway stretch between Marks Tey and Braintree is heavily congested and recognised as being one of the country’s ten most dangerous roads.
“I was pleased to have a constructive meeting with the minister, who recognises that the road needs changes and listened carefully to the case I made for investment in the A120. I will continue to press for the improvements this road needs as the prosperity of north Essex depends on it becoming fit for purpose.”
Mr Hammond said: “I recognise the importance of the A120 and the potential economic benefits to be gained from improving the route.
“Local partners have done an excellent job in putting together the case for future investment and we will be working closely with them, the Highways Agency and potential private sector developers to consider the details of possible future investments.”
Mr Hammond’s comments come after his visit to Haven Gateway Partnership (HGP) earlier this month, where the case for improving the A120 up to Harwich was made.
George Kieffer, HGP chairman, said: “We were delighted to host this visit by the minister so we could show him, first hand, the economic opportunities and infrastructure challenges in Harwich and the Haven Gateway.
“We are the only area of the country that can boast both an international airport, Stansted, and an international port, Harwich, linked by a single road - the A120.”