�120 million upgrade for A12

MORE than �120 million of funding is to be ploughed into upgrading one of the region's most important roads if plans for improvement are rubber-stamped, the EADT can reveal.

Roddy Ashworth

MORE than �120 million of funding is to be ploughed into upgrading one of the region's most important roads if plans for improvement are rubber-stamped, the EADT can reveal.

The cash will be used to improve the A12, the main arterial route linking the East of England with London.

The money comes after Essex County Council set up its own independent Commission of Inquiry into the road, which is widely regarded as one of the worst trunk routes in the UK for traffic.


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The commission highlighted a range of problems with the A12 - which has only ever seen piecemeal improvements - and possible solutions to ease difficulties encountered regularly by motorists.

Following the publication of the commission's report, in November last year Minister of Transport Geoff Hoon said that the Government would be prepared to invest �60million for A12 improvements if the amount was matched from within the eastern region.

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And now the transport forum of the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) has agreed in principle to fork out the cash needed to meet the Government's offer.

The forum's recommendation still has to be formally be approved by EERA's ruling assembly, but it is widely expected that the plan will be fully backed.

Although a specific programme has not been drawn up, the money is likely to be used for areas such as traffic control, the improvement of junctions, electronic information signs for drivers and the introduction of average and variable speed cameras.

Yesterday Norman Hume, Essex County Council's cabinet member for highways, said: “Frankly, I feel really good about this. We had a long debate, because it is a lot of money to come from the region.

“This is not the sort of money that would mean we could triple-lane the road. However, I believe �120million will move the A12 from being one of the worst performing roads in the country into one that could be described as being acceptable.”

Last night Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council and the instigator of the Commission of Inquiry, said: “I am very pleased about this - it is about time.

“The A12 is the lifeline of the whole of the eastern region and without improvement we could have lost out to other areas.

I believe that the Commission of Inquiry has speeded things up enormously.

“The issues that are being addressed with this money are the same that were highlighted in the commission's report.”

A Government spokesman said: “The Department of Transport has already committed itself to investing �60million, subject to the regional assembly matching that figure.”

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