New A12 link between East Anglia and London could take a decade
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Drivers will have to wait a decade before they see major improvements to the A12 between Chelmsford and Colchester in Essex, it has emerged.
Rebuilding the road with a third lane in each direction was first announced as a proposal by the government in the run-up to the 2015 general election - and there was a public consultation on the proposal two years ago.
Now Highways England has announced a new series of public exhibitions about the possible route of the new road linked to a proposed new community at Marks Tey.
Their announcement includes a timeline which shows that the earliest work could start on the new road is in 2023-24 - and the earliest it could be completed and ready to ease the county's traffic congestion is in 2027-28. And that assumes everything goes according to schedule over the next five years.
Road campaigners in Essex have been pressing the case for investment and Stephen Elderkin, Highways England project lead for the A12, said: "The A12 is a key route connecting the East of England to London.
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"With the high levels of congestion, it's a route that Highways England and the Government are committed to improving.
"Our proposed improvements will increase safety and average speeds, so that someone travelling on the A12 daily can expect to save over an hour of travel time each week."
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Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: "I want the A12 to be as safe as possible for the 90,000 people who use it each day. That is why we are committed to modernising this major road, supporting growth in the region and improving journeys for all."
While the improvements for the A12 in Essex are in Highway's England's plans for the next decade, campaigners in Suffolk are still trying to build a case to improve the A14 from Felixstowe to the Cambridgeshire border.
High on their campaign wish-list is rebuilding the Copdock Mill junction between the A12 and A14 just south of Ipswich which is a serious traffic bottleneck every rush-hour.
There are, at present, no plans to improve the A12 trunk road between Colchester and Ipswich - a section that has serious accident blackspots at the junctions to East Bergholt and Dedham on either side of the Suffolk/Essex border.
Timeline for the road widening:
October 2019 Preferred route announcement on junctions 19 to 23 (Boreham to Kelvedon)
October/November 2019 Non-statutory public consultation on junctions 23 to 25 (Kelvedon to Marks Tey)
Summer 2020 Preferred route announcement on junctions 23 to 25
2020 Public consultation junctions 19-25 (the whole route)
2021 Application for Development Consent Order junctions 19-25
2023 Development Consent Order secured for junctions 19-25
2023-24 Start of works junctions 19-25
2027-28 Open for traffic junctions 19-25