Next steps outlined for decision on A12 traffic light plans


The single-lane stretch of the A12 between the Seckford and Dobbies roundabouts will be dualled - Credit: Googls Maps

More than 700 responses to a consultation on improving A12 junctions between Seven Hills and Melton are now being analysed. 

The £60million plans were unveiled in February which propose to improve all junctions on the stretch which runs east of Ipswich from Seven Hills through to Woods Lane in Melton, as part of efforts to reduce congestion and improve traffic flows.

The consultation has now closed, and Suffolk County Council said it is sifting through more than 700 responses.

Maps of A12

Junctions on the A12 which will be subject to the upgrades under Suffolk County Council's plans - Credit: Suffolk County Council

An update sent by the council to respondents said: "We are now working to analyse the responses and also to further assess and refine the proposed scheme.

"Suffolk County Council cabinet will make a decision in the summer about what we submit to the Department for Transport as an outline business case later in the summer.

"The outcome of that submission will determine the funding available to progress the design development for the scheme, which if we are successful will start in autumn."

The plans have divided opinion to date because they propose adding traffic lights to all of those junctions except for the Seckford roundabout.

The A12 in Melton

The A12 in Melton - Credit: Google Maps

Other elements of the scheme include a dualled portion between the Seckford and Dobbies roundabouts, expansion of some of the roundabout approach lanes and creating a dedicated cycle network in some parts. 

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The council said now was the right time for the upgrades, adding: "People using the A12 already experience congestion, delay, and unreliable journey times, and this will get worse if we do nothing because of the traffic impacts associated with planned growth and development in the area.

"Suffolk urgently needs to provide more jobs and homes, some of which are already approved. The A12 needs to be ready for this.

"If approved the proposed development of a new power station at Sizewell C will add traffic to the A12, especially during its long construction period, so it is important to deliver works on the A12 ahead of this. The scheme would also benefit the additional traffic forecast by the Sizewell C application."

Roundabout at Ropes Drive West where the traffic light trial has been taking place

Roundabout at Ropes Drive West where the traffic light trial has been taking place

However, opposers to the plans have said traffic lights will actually make congestion worse, as it will cause vehicles to stop and start. 

Some have pointed to the Kesgrave roundabouts on the A1214 which took years for lights to be removed when trials found traffic movements were better without them.

An online poll carried out by this publication when plans were first unveiled found 86% of 625 respondents felt the improvements would not aid traffic movement.

To find out more about the plans, visit the county council webpage here.

What happens next?

The consultation responses will now be collated, analysed, and presented in a report to Suffolk County Council's cabinet this summer.

If the cabinet is happy with the feedback, it will decide what to submit as an outline business case to the DfT.

That submission will determine how much funding is available, and how much from local contributions will be needed, and if viable will allow design work to begin in the autumn this year.

From there, detailed designs, planning and engagement will take place through the winter of late 2021 and early 2022.

If all is approved, work is planned to begin in autumn 2023 and finish in the winter of 2025.