County's roads plan revealed

FRUSTRATED motorists could know by the end of the year whether a multi-million pound scheme to dual one of the most congested roads in Essex has been given the go-ahead.

FRUSTRATED motorists could know by the end of the year whether a multi-million pound scheme to dual one of the most congested roads in Essex has been given the go-ahead.

The ambitious proposals to widen part of the A133 corridor through Colchester form part of Essex County Council's countywide bid to revolutionise key road systems in Essex.

And the council has moved to quell fears a wider road could sound the death knell for trees along the Avenue of Remembrance - a First World War memorial. While it admitted it could not rule out the loss of a few trees, it denied widescale destruction was on the cards.

The county council promises reduced congestion, a high standard of road maintenance, better public transport and a robust road safety strategy in its transport plan for Essex over the next five years.

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Following two years of extensive consultation with the public and other stakeholders, the provisional Local Transport Plan for 2006 to 2011 has been approved by the cabinet and will be submitted to the Government on July 29.

Rodney Bass, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said the £12million bid to upgrade the A133 from the Cymbeline Way junction from the A12 to Clingoe Hill to the east of the town would include a variety of measures designed to improve traffic flow.

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If approved, projects could include:

n Dualling Cymbeline Way - partly needed for the planned park and ride any way;

n Replacing the roundabout at Colne Bank Avenue with a signalled junction;

n General improvements along Cowdray Avenue with the possibility of widening the bridge over the railway line - a complicated project still in very early stages;

n Slightly widening the Ipswich Road roundabout;

n Improvements to the Greenstead roundabout - another challenging venture which is the subject of further detailed study.

Mr Bass said: “These schemes have been long awaited and this is a bid to make a start. I do think Essex has got a good case for the funding, as our infrastructure is 25 years out of date. In Colchester, the question is can we get a wider corridor and lose the unnecessary crossover points - that's all we are trying to do.”

Mr Bass said he was aware of the aesthetics of the Avenue of Remembrance and if any trees had to be felled they would be replaced.

“People are going to have to make a choice about whether we should preserve everything. Of course, we are sensitive to the vegetation on the sides of the roads and it may be some trees have to come out.

“But I am also sensitive to the emotional state of drivers who have to sit in traffic - we cannot please everybody.”

He also stressed other schemes, such as park and ride, were part of the whole package and the aim was not to improve the roads for an indiscriminate number of cars.

He added: “We are now reaching the culmination of a long process of consultation on a most important transport blueprint.

“It is essential to be able to deal with the transportation infrastructure in Essex to make it fit for the 21st Century and to address years of neglect.”

The county council is seeking funding in the plan for a number of major schemes that are vital for the strategic network, including the A131 Great Notley bypass improvements; park and ride for Chelmsford and Colchester, Chelmsford north east bypass and cross valley link to Broomfield Hospital and regeneration of Jaywick.

In addition, there are a number of partnership schemes with the Highways Agency already in the pipeline, including improving the A120 Braintree to the A12 and upgrading the A12, M25 and M11.

In December, the Government will indicate the likely level of funding available. The county council will amend the plan in the light of funding and resubmit it to the Government for final assessment from January to March 2006. There will be full consultation when the amount of funding is announced and the final schemes decided.

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