'More money needed to improve A12'

A MAJOR £60m investment in the A12 has been welcomed but more still needs to be done to improve the “dangerous and unsatisfactory” road, it was claimed last night.

Anthony Bond

A MAJOR £60m investment in the A12 has been welcomed but more still needs to be done to improve the “dangerous and unsatisfactory” road, it was claimed last night.

The Government announced yesterday that improvements will be made to a 54-mile stretch of the road in Essex.

The multi-million pound investment will include variable message signs at key points and automatic incident detection sensors embedded in the road surface.


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These will be linked to the Highways Agency's regional control centre and will provide information for road users, warnings of upcoming congestion and advice on potential alternative routes.

The government said the improvements will improve journey reliability and reduce delays.

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Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for roads and transport, said it was good news for Suffolk's residents but said more was still needed.

“£60m is certainly welcome but the scale of the problem is at the very least 10 times that amount. That is the magnitude of the problem we are trying to address.

“The A12 running out from London is a collection of bypasses built to varying standards at varying times with some very sharp bends and crossings that go across the carriageway, which goes from two to three lanes. It is a mish-mash.”

He added: “This road is particularly dangerous and unsatisfactory and we know of the tragedy on the turning to Stoke-by-Nayland where a man was killed by a motorist turning right.

“It is this sort of thing which I would hope the Highways Agency would address because these junctions going across dual carriageways are unsatisfactory. If the money will address these issues then I am sure that everybody in Suffolk will be happy.”

Tim Yeo, MP for Suffolk South, said the investment was “good news” but still not enough.

“If you look at the traffic figures and the way they have grown it should be a six-lane road all the way through from the M25 to Ipswich.

“I just think between London and Ipswich it is carrying a high amount of traffic compared to 25 years ago and the road is not adequate for the needs.”

The A12 improvement is one of several transport projects brought forward by the Government in a bid to boost the economy. The road is a key freight route which links the capital to Felixstowe and Harwich ports. It is expected that work will start in 2011-12.

Lord Hanningfield, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “Our efforts on behalf of motorists and businesses in Essex and East Anglia to bring the A12 to national attention are bearing fruit and we will continue to work with the Government to achieve the improvements to the A12 which will prevent the misery and congestion that is currently so often a feature of the road.”

He added: “However, there is still a long way to go before the A12 meets the standards that the motorists of Essex expect and demand and we will continue to lobby the Government until substantial improvements in this key route become a reality.”

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon said: “The A12 is a crucial strategic link, taking traffic between the east coast ports of Felixstowe and Harwich and the wider motorway network, and supporting the economy of the region and our trade links with Europe and beyond.

“With this new package of technology in place, the Highways Agency's regional control centre would be able to identify incidents more quickly, deploy appropriate emergency service response and relay tactical and strategic advice to road users who can still change their travel plans.”

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