March 12 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Essex’s transport and roads chief has set out a £200m infrastructure plan to support economic growth in the county.
It includes proposals to ease congestion around Essex’s key towns, such as Colchester and Chelmsford, improve connections with ports and airports and upgrade significant pinch points on the road network.
The proposals, which were endorsed by members of Essex County Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, set out the priorities for infrastructure improvements between 2015 and 2021 and are an update to the Local Transport Plan with a greater emphasis on facilitating economic development.
The plan’s author, councillor Rodney Bass, who is cabinet member for highways and transportation, said he expected his “wish list” of projects across Essex would cost between £150-200m. Around £80m of this is expected to come from the government via the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and the remainder from community funds made available by developers and private investment.
“We have set out as far as we can the necessary infrastructure projects needed to support economic growth,” said Mr Bass.
“The biggest single inhibitor to the economy is congestion - cars not being able to get about, lorries carrying goods being held up. Free-flowing roads are vital, as are good connections with airports and ports.”
Stretches of road earmarked for improvements in north east Essex include the A133 in Colchester between Colne Bank Avenue and Greenstead Roundabout and the Millennium slip road off the A120 at Braintree.
There are also plans to devise traffic management “packages” for Colchester, Clacton and Braintree while a 1000 space park and ride for Colchester is highlighted as a priority.
The plans also makes mention of national strategic projects, which are also flagged up as crucial to delivering economic growth in Essex. These include rail line enhancements and a new rail station for Chelmsford, a new Lower Thames Crossing, better access to the airports at Stansted and Southend and the ports at Harwich, Tilbury and London Gateway, as well as improvements to the M11, A12 and A120.
But Mr Bass was eager to emphasise that not all the local projects will be completed by 2021.
“People shouldn’t get the idea that just because these projects are in the plan that they will happen immediately,” he said.
“ But the economy in Essex is growing and we should be optimistic. We are determined to make a start where we can and some projects may go up or down the list depending on whether private investment is made available or whether there are issues around planning permission.
“What this is is a template, a wish list, the transport chapter of the broader Greater Essex Economic Plan.”