A12 'task force' to be set up

A TASK group is to be formed to tackle congestion that regularly cripples the A12 costing the local economy £100million a year, it has emerged.

Elliot Furniss

A TASK group is to be formed to tackle congestion that regularly cripples the A12 costing the local economy £100million a year, it has emerged.

Essex County Council has confirmed it is to follow one of the many recommendations made by an independent commission looking at the troubled carriageway.

The A12 Alliance will investigate ways of running the road better on a day to day basis, improving emergency procedures and other matters.

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The body is expected to involve partners such as the Highways Agency, Essex Police and Suffolk County Council and will discuss and implement other moves suggested by the commission panel, which was led by former head of the Department for Transport, Sir David Rowlands.

The groundbreaking inquiry into the A12, which is the responsibility of the Highways Agency, was the first to take place in the UK into an existing road and the final report made 28 recommendations.

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Norman Hume, Essex County Council's cabinet member for highways and transportation, said he was “very pleased” to be able to start making real progress on delivering the inquiry's findings - just two months after they were announced.

He said: “A report from the East of England Development Agency has found that travel delays cost each of us £900 a year and the A12 was cited as the biggest contributor to that misery.

“Time is simply not on our side and Essex County Council will be acting as quickly as possible to bring about as many improvements as we can.”

The action has been given the green light by the council's cabinet and leader Lord Hanningfield said the formation of the alliance could not come too soon.

Another measure given the go-ahead was the introduction of three teams of civil traffic management officers, who will patrol the dual-carriageway and help recover accidents and ease congestion.

Lord Hannigfield said: “We have a lot of potential partners because the A12 goes into Suffolk as well.

“We need to get everybody together and get enough money put into it. The first thing the council can do is put the team of traffic management officers on the road.

“But there are other things like creating more lay-bys and improving certain stretches that will need more investment. A lot of the problems face both counties and we need to work together and get it moving.”

Essex County Council, together with the newly formed A12 Alliance, will immediately look into fast-tracking investment for the A12 within the current regional framework laid down by the Government.

In his report, Sir David identified a package of measures that could be carried out to improve the road in the short term.

Lord Hanningfield said the council had looked into these measures and believed that around £60million could be applied for as early as next February, with a view to including them in a programme of projects which would be carried out before 2019.

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