County to get traffic nerve centre

MOTORING organisations have voiced their approval at plans to build a traffic nerve centre aimed at driving out congestion from Essex's clogged-up roads.

MOTORING organisations have voiced their approval at plans to build a traffic nerve centre aimed at driving out congestion from Essex's clogged-up roads.

Both the RAC and the AA welcomed the groundbreaking initiative from Essex County Council, which wants to set up a hi-tech operations room in Chelmsford's County Hall.

About £2.5million of Council Tax money will be ploughed into the scheme over the next three years, which will be the first of its type in the country.

Pre-empting the Government's Traffic Management Bill, the county council has appointed Brian Goodwin as its new traffic manager.


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It will be his responsibility to monitor traffic conditions across Essex once the new control room becomes operational in March.

A network of roadside display panels will be developed across the major non-motorway routes to alert drivers to changing traffic conditions.

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Electronic solar-powered detectors are already being piloted in Chelmsford with cameras providing live details of vehicle flows and speeds on key routes.

This information will then be fed into the County Hall control room with staff then able to alter timings on traffic signals and pass on details and advice of alternative routes to local radio and other media.

Both the RAC and the AA welcomed the move yesterday.

A spokesman for the RAC Foundation said: "It's always a good idea whenever local authorities are given increased responsibilities for traffic in its area because it means that somebody is having an overview of the situation - it's an essential part of traffic strategy."

Rodney Bass, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "The new centre is a bold and ambitious measure of the county's commitment to get traffic moving and will be the most advanced of its kind in the country."

He also said Essex County Council would be taking advantage of Government proposals to give extra traffic enforcement powers to local authorities.

The council intends to "fully explore" the opportunity to stamp out illegal use of bus lanes, yellow boxes and banned turns by looking at cameras, he added.

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