Essex: Roads are holding back business
Increasing pressure on the county’s roads is holding back business, highways bosses have warned.
The county council’s roads chief Rodney Bass has said investing in Essex infrastructure will drive the country’s overall economy.
Roads minister Robert Goodwill met Mr Bass, county councillor for highways and transportation, and Witham MP Priti Patel on Wednesday.
During the meeting the group discussed the need for investment in the county’s major road network.
At the meeting Mr Goodwill was given a copy of the Local Transport Plan for Essex, which formed the basis for a recent funding bid worth an estimated £350million to the county in central government funding.
The plan includes a prioritised list of transport improvement schemes, such as making the entire A120 a dual carriageway.
Mr Bass told the EADT: “The current state of the roads is holding back business, of course it is. This is a very important part of our submission. All of our efforts are engaged in ensuring any investment on the road and rail infrastructure, or air, is associated with economic growth, and is designed to promote economic growth.
“We are trying to ensure economic growth is not held back by a lack of infrastructure, both sides of the coin operate.
“In the past we have been held back in East Anglia because of the lack of investment.
“If the Government wants to achieve its continuing improving economy the best way is to answer our call because Essex will drive the growth of the country.
“We are working very closely with the Highways Agency who, on behalf of the Department for Transport, are doing route management studies on the A12 and M11 corridors.
“But we must not forget the east-west links, not least the A120, which tend to be neglected because the others are radials towards London.
“The A120 serves a particularly important growth area, both for economic activity and housing, with an international port and airport at each end.
“The point I was hopefully able to get across was both roads carry a disproportionate amount of freight, and that is actually very important in terms of understanding why they need improving and widening.
“For example the A12 has many sub-standard sliproads which are difficult to negotiate, especially when there’s a large number of lorries.
“It is not going to be widened in the near future, this will have to be part of longer term plans.”
Mr Bass reiterated his support, backed by a county council motion, for a ban on lorries overtaking on the A12 at peak times which he hopes will be considered by the Highways Agency, saying he was “an advocate of proper lorry driving behaviour”.
Ms Patel said: “Essex is an engine of economic growth and by investing in our roads to reduce congestion and improve safety, businesses can create more jobs and growth.
“The problems caused by delays and traffic on our roads harm businesses, prolong journeys and add costs.
“The minister is fully aware of the need for our roads to be treated as a matter of priority and we will continue to work closely with him to develop the best options to improve our roads.”