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Costs are worth it if we can fix Colchester’s congestion - MP’s view

PUBLISHED: 13:10 10 November 2018

A traffic queue at Westway roundabout in Colchester. Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

A traffic queue at Westway roundabout in Colchester. Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

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What can be done to ease traffic congestion around Colchester? MP Will Quince looks at the issue in his column.

Tackling congestion in and around Colchester has been a long-standing priority of mine. Residents are all too aware that when it comes to housing, our town has grown too big too quickly and without the infrastructure which is vital to support it.

Part of this must be improving the main routes which bring visitors to our town such as the A120 and A12, and I am fighting hard in Parliament to secure the funding necessary to deliver these improvements.

Yet so much of the congestion which my residents face is in and around our town centre, as well as around North Station and Cowdray Avenue. This is why I, like so many, welcomed the plans announced by Essex County Council to improve the east-west route through Colchester via Cowdray Avenue.

No-one would argue against multi-million pounds of investment in our roads to alleviate traffic during peak hours, and most people understand that short-term disruption is so often necessary to tackle long-term gridlock. However, it is common sense that whenever works are undertaken to improve roads, they should be done in a manner which takes into account the impact on local road users and businesses.

This seems to have not be the case with the recent works which have begun on the Ipswich Road roundabout. These have only been going on for a handful of weeks, yet our town has already ground to a halt especially at peak hours. If this situation was only going to last a few weeks, then residents and businesses could either find alternative routes or try and mitigate the impact for a short period in the knowledge that the works would soon be over.

This unfortunately isn’t the case. Residents and businesses are being told that they can expect these improvements to be completed in 2020. Neither I nor my constituents can understand why these roadworks are expected to take two years to complete. Ignoring concerns over the reported lack of action at the site so far, the fact is that it cannot be acceptable to plan for a piece of work with such a detrimental impact on road users to take so long.

When the works first started, I raised my concerns with Essex County Council regarding the impact this was going to have on local drivers. I understand the pressures on local government finance and support the goal of ensuring best value for money when awarding contracts. However, the simple fact is that Colchester cannot have these works go on for so long.

I have written to and requested a meeting with the cabinet member for Highways at Essex County Council to discuss how these road works can be sped up.

While this means that I am asking the council to incur potentially significant additional costs, I do not think there is a choice between this or the impact on local residents whose lives are being severely disrupted and local businesses that are seeing a significant detrimental impact wholly due to the works.

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