Aim to dual A120 from Braintree to Colchester within 10 years
The A120 between Braintree and Colchester could be dualled within ten years.
Talks were held between transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Essex MPs Priti Patel and Bernard Jenkin to discuss the project earlier this week.
One outcome was an aim to get the scheme in the 2020-2025 works programme.
For this to happen proposals would need to be put to the government within the next two years, making work on a feasibility study examining scheme options a priority.
Essex County Council and Braintree District Council have between them pledged £7.5million to fund a study, with prime minister David Cameron pledging to match the cash during the general election campaign.
It is understood the county council will be asked to lead the project, rather than Highways England.
Mr Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, said: “It was a good brisk meeting and there was a lot of clarity which is what we were looking for.
“The agenda is very clear. We need to get certainly the western part onto the programme for 2020-2025.
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“The proposal needs to be ready and done in two years for the government to consider, and the county council will be given a strategic leadership role in making sure there is clarity between the road aspect and where any extra development goes to contribute to the road scheme.
“What people want is not higgledy-piggledy development, a bit of housing here and there. We need a plan, and that must include extra schools, health services, sewage capacity and all the rest of it.
“I am not going to support any scheme which does not address this.”
Mr Jenkin added he was keen to see the eastern stretch through Tendring developed too but said traffic demand meant the western section would take priority for now.
Campaigners praised Ms Patel and Mr Jenkin for ensuring the project did not slip off the agenda.
George Kieffer, chairman of the Haven Gateway which has been leading the A120 campaign, said: “I welcome this. We can now get stuck in and started on the plans for the area.
“You can do that with some assurance, it is going to happen and you know when.
“A ten-year timeline is realistic.
“The fact we have demonstrated and given the evidence on the value it would give to the national economy is vital – we can all go out with our begging bows but we have to show added value.”
Commenting on the next steps Mr Kieffer added: “The next hurdle will be the route, and the study will throw up some less acceptable things which need to be worked out.
“But I think it’s clear the junction with the A12 cannot be at Marks Tey.”
Rodney Bass, Essex county councillor for highways & transportation, added: “We shall be delighted to lead on the feasibility study for the A120 if asked to do so.
“We shall be delighted to work in collaboration with Highways England with whom we have an excellent working relationship.
“Our local MPs and the Haven Gateway Partnership have done an excellent job in positively influencing this very encouraging development.”