Radical steps to tackle congestion
RADICAL measures are being urged to solve problems on one of the most congested commuter routes in Essex.Every weekday morning thousands of motorists sit fuming as traffic inches slowly along the Eastern Approaches Road into Colchester.
RADICAL measures are being urged to solve problems on one of the most congested commuter routes in Essex.
Every weekday morning thousands of motorists sit fuming as traffic inches slowly along the Eastern Approaches Road into Colchester.
The gridlock on Clingoe Hill starts as early as 7.45am and is becoming so bad that some days it is only clearing at around 10am.
Businesses as well as commuters are growing increasingly irritated at daily excuses by staff arriving late for work.
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Some firms claim it is affecting office morale with employees finally turning up for work in foul moods.
The A133 grind is also threatening to hurt the Colchester economy as some commuters from places like Clacton, St Osyth, Elmstead Market and Wivenhoe consider future employment options.
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With massive new housing development earmarked for Tendring and a research park planned for Essex University, the situation could soon deteriorate.
Essex County Council has been employing consultants to look into long term solutions.
A number of options have been suggested including widening the road and building a flyover to allow traffic to by-pass the Greenstead roundabout bottleneck.
But these would take years to come about and councillors said yesterday the need for action was immediate.
One idea is for Boundary Road - a private route running parallel to Clingoe Hill through Essex University that was closed several years ago - to be reopened to increase capacity.
And another councillor, David Adams, Colchester borough councillor for the Wivenhoe Cross ward, said he would be taking his idea - a filter road to come down Clingoe Hill through the Hythe that would also by-pass the Greenstead roundabout - to a meeting with officials on Monday.
“Nothing's been done at the moment, which is absolutely ridiculous - there needs to be drastic action,” he added.
Wivenhoe town councillor Christopher Thompson called for a meeting of all public bodies, including the university, affected by the problems.
He said: “Everyone who has to drive into Colchester in the mornings recently will know that the traffic jams on Clingoe Hill are getting worse.
“Wivenhoe Town Council asked last November for a meeting with Essex County Council, Colchester and Tendring councils as well as the university so that our councillors can press for action to be taken.
“We are still waiting for an official response and a date.
“One solution would be to reopen Boundary Road, but that would need the university's permission.”
However, a university spokeswoman said there were no plans to reopen the road, which was closed for safety reasons several years ago, but added it would be assessing of the impact of the proposed research park during the planning application process.
A new university rail stop on the Colchester-Wivenhoe line was also a possibility, she said.
Rodney Bass, Essex County Council transport portfolio holder, said he was in the middle of a study looking at the A133 corridor and hoped it would be made publicly available by the end of March, but stressed the situation was “highly complex”.
He said he was not aware of any request for a meeting, but added: “Clearly the road's extremely congested with a number of pinch-points.
“In the longer term, there's no doubt it will have to be widened to allow for the extra capacity with a fly-over another possibility.
“But that will be very expensive and require Government funding.
“However, what people really want is short-term solutions and we will hopefully start moving towards those within a couple of months.”
He said short term options were changing the timings of traffic lights and introducing no right hand turns in some places.