Little Bentley: Deadly junctions on A120 in Essex to close


- Credit: Andrew Partridge

DEADLY junctions which have been blamed for up to five deaths on the A120 are to be closed.

But last night highways chiefs were urged to find a better long-term solution than shutting the gaps in the central reservation at the Harwich Road, Park Road and Pellens Corner junctions near Little Bentley.

The safety move is expected to have an impact on many road users and increase journey times.

The closures, expected to be in force by the end of May, will prevent drivers turning across the busy road.

The Highways Agency, which carried out improvement work on the junctions a year ago, says the move is a temporary measure and they are working “to determine a long-term solution”.

But concerns have been raised over how long the temporary measures will be in place and the potential impact they might have on nearby villages as drivers seek alternative routes.

The decision follows a meeting between Highways Agency representatives, councillors and the emergency services earlier this month, aimed at improving safety on the notorious stretch of road.

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The A120 has seen nine fatalities over the last decade. Two of these were at the Pellens Corner junction, with another death taking place at Hare Green – locations between Great Bromley and Little Bentley.

The Highways Agency asset manager, Eric Cooper, said: “Safety is our top priority. We carried out improvements last April, and have continued to monitor these junctions. That monitoring has shown the central reservation gaps should be closed to prevent traffic turning across the carriageway.

“We acknowledge this will have an impact on local roads and we will work closely with Essex County Council and Essex Police to reduce this impact where possible.

“We are continuing to investigate a longer-term solution and funding has been allocated to develop an appropriate permanent solution in the near future.”

But MP for Harwich and North Essex, Bernard Jenkin, said he was concerned the closures would cause inconvenience to drivers and villagers.

He said: “Safety has to come first, but this can only be a very temporary solution. Closing these gaps will be hideously inconvenient for local road users, causing long and circuitous journeys on many rural roads, which will themselves become more dangerous.

“The pressure is on the Highways Agency to come up with a better solution as quickly as possible – such as speed cameras in the short term, and a new single junction with a roundabout in due course.”

Leader of Tendring District Council, Peter Halliday, said the council had voted against the measures and he hoped to meet with the Highways Agency soon to air their concern.

He added: “The key to this is how long the agency regards as ‘temporary’. The actions they are proposing could make nearby rural roads just as dangerous – what are the mitigations?

“The announcement has thrown up more questions than answers. I understand their position on road safety but I’m sad that money has been wasted on solutions that haven’t worked and that could have gone towards one that does.”