December 11 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Business leaders last night renewed calls for improvements to key road infrastructure in Essex after an accident on the A12 brought major traffic congestion to the county.
Director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, David Burch, said the hold-ups that resulted on surrounding roads as traffic was diverted from the A12 showed there was an urgent need to upgrade important routes.
The misery for motorists started shortly after 1am when the A12 between Chelmsford and Marks Tey was closed after a 40-tonne lorry carrying fruit crashed through the central reservation and overturned, blocking both sides of the carriageway.
Although one southbound lane was opened in time for the morning rush hour the northbound lanes stayed shut until 2pm.
During the 13-hour recovery process a 23-mile diversion had to be set up, causing chaos for early-morning travellers.
The driver of the lorry and a passenger were taken to hospital after being cut from the wreckage with what were reported as serious but not life-threatening injuries.
Police later announced the driver had been arrested on suspicion of careless driving and drink or drug-driving.
Three other vehicles were involved in the incident and there was a separate two-car collision in the tailbacks on the northbound carriageway of the A12. A spokesman for the Highways Agency said they had tried to open the road as soon as possible and the lengthy closure was down to the time it took to remove the lorry and repair the barrier.
But Mr Burch said the accident and its knock-on effects highlighted the need for improvements to road infrastructure.
He said: “It just takes one accident like this and other roads in the area can’t cope.
“The accident didn’t just hold up traffic on the A12 – traffic was being rerouted onto the A134 at Chelmsford and then onto the A120 at Braintree and there were also hold-ups on these roads.
“The Chambers has been calling for some time for the A120 to be made dual carriageway along its entire length and we are always getting complaints from our members - especially those from the road haulage and logistics industry - about how much delays on the county’s road are costing them.”
Mr Burch’s comments came four days after Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore criticised the time it took the Highways Agency to clear the A14 following a diesel spill near Nacton in Suffolk last Friday.
In statement, the Highways Agency said the lorry accident had damaged 100 metres of the central reservation safety barrier and thanked drivers for their patience during the closure.
It added: “We are committed to clearing incidents as quickly as possible and worked closely with emergency services to reopen the road as soon as possible.
“This particular incident necessitated a protracted rescue operation involving the fire and rescue and ambulance services, followed by a police investigation and then a complex operation to remove the vehicle and repair the barrier. This is a safety barrier in place to protect road users and needed to be repaired before the road was safe to drive on.”