M11 and A12 upgrade work in Suffolk and Essex ‘under threat’ of delays or cancellation
- Credit: Archant
More than a dozen road improvement projects in England, including along the A12 and the M11 in Suffolk and Essex, have been delayed or face cancellation.
Government-owned Highways England announced it has pushed back 16 motorway and A road schemes - all but one until at least 2020 - to ensure “value for money”.
These include work on the M60 in Greater Manchester, the M3 in Winchester and the A5 in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, which were all due to begin over the next two years.
Six projects may not happen at all after Highways England said they were being “paused for further review” to achieve an “acceptable return on investment”.
The schemes under threat include:
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:: Conversion of a section of the M53 in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, to a smart motorway;
:: Technology upgrades on the M11 from Stansted Airport, Essex, to Cambridge;
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:: Technology upgrades on the entire route of the A12, which runs between London to Suffolk.
Two further projects will go ahead from 2020 after “changes in local development plans”.
The update also saw 10 schemes being brought forward.
Highways England is more than two years into delivering a £15 billion government investment in motorways and major A roads.
Chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said: “Our update today is a sensible and responsible way to deliver major national investment in road infrastructure.
“It will keep our roads moving, deliver a lasting legacy for the country and ensure best value for money for the taxpayer.”
But AA head of roads policy Jack Cousens described the announcement as “devastating to drivers”.
He said: “After suffering months, if not years, of congestion at these hotspots they have had the hope of relief snatched away, at least for the time being.
“We know that budgets are tight, but the efficiency improvements would assist the economy and help tackle air quality.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “I confirm that government has agreed with Highways England’s plans to optimise delivery of the RIS (Road Investment Strategy).
“This re-profiling and optimisation of delivery is consistent with Highways England’s remit and does not involve any cancellation of schemes, so the regions of England can expect continued and similar levels of road investment.”
It comes after the Department for Transport is to fund the major part of a new link road and junction from the A140 to Eye Airfield.
And it is to also provide funding to improve a junction on the A120 at Braintree and the junction of the A120 and M11 near Stansted Airport.
The Eye project has been championed by Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter who welcomed the news that Whitehall would pay £3.75m towards the £5.36m cost of the scheme.
He said: “I am delighted by today’s announcement. Work to improve this junction is long overdue and I have been working closely with Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and local businesses for some time now to bring about improvements to this vital road.
“Thanks to Government funding, this money will now enable much needed road safety improvements for all those living and working in the area, but it will also provide a welcome boost to local businesses operating nearby who are currently hampered by lengthy delays entering and leaving their business premises.”
Jane Storey, deputy leader of Suffolk County Council, said: “It is fantastic the Department for Transport has recognised our bid to build a road and improve the junctions in the area surrounding Eye Airfield.
“The link road connecting the A140 and B1077 will offer additional housing and jobs growth at the Eye Airfield site and as a result of the road being built there will be fewer delays in the area. The junctions will be made safer due to the improvements as well.”
The Essex schemes will help traffic heading to and from Stansted Airport from the east and the west and ease two serious bottlenecks.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This Government is taking the big decisions for Britain’s future and investing a record £23 billion on our roads to increase capacity and improve journeys.
“These schemes will provide much needed upgrades to essential local roads, cutting congestion, improving safety and shortening journey times for drivers. They will also help boost growth by unlocking jobs and supporting new housing.”