Traffic study gives campaigners hope

THOUSANDS who backed an EADT campaign to dual a notorious stretch of north Essex road have received a major boost with the launch of a long awaited traffic study.

THOUSANDS who backed an EADT campaign to dual a notorious stretch of north Essex road have received a major boost with the launch of a long awaited traffic study.

Experts have started investigating ways of upgrading the A120 between Hare Green and Harwich, for long the scene of accident carnage partly due to the large numbers of juggernauts and foreign drivers coming and going from the Essex port.

The probe, fully funded by Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd as part of its plans to redevelop Bathside Bay, will take nine months to complete with the findings due to go out to public consultation early next year.

Specialists will monitor traffic flows and assess the likely impact of further freight if the Bathside Bay deep-sea container terminal is given the green light.

Options that could be recommended by the consultants include dualling the road, as demanded by the thousands who backed the EADT's Action for the A120 campaign, or widening the existing single carriageways.

A brand new wider road on a different route could also be built, a spokesman for HSL - the company managing the study - told the EADT yesterday.

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Experts from Bullen Consultants, which will actually undertake the work, are due to start analysing the notorious route within days.

Darren Hodgson, who will have overall responsibility for the project with HSL, said: “There's only certain times of the year when this type of work can be done, so people from Bullen will be out there walking the route and counting traffic and looking at the environmental impacts fairly soon.

“We will be building up a model of what's happening and look at the feasibility of various options and they'll all be fully costed in a cost benefit analysis.

“Dualling will be considered, but it will most likely be the most expensive option.

“Other options are widening the road as a single carriageway to 10 metres from 7.3 metres.

“This could be done on the existing route or building a new stretch - or we could use a combination of both.”

Keith Tully, road campaigner and vice chairman of Ramsey and Parkeston Parish Council, welcomed the new work and said his own studies last revealed 15,000 vehicle movements a day on the Harwich Hare Green stretch.

He added: “The bottom line for every resident I've spoken to is dualling. If they plump for widening we will only see that as a stopgap measure.

“There's no doubt that dualling would be expensive because there would have to be a new route in the fields between Wix and Ramsey - and that would involve compulsory land purchase.”

The new work follows last year's Public Inquiry into Hutchison's plans for Bathside Bay.

A spokeswoman for the company said should plans receive the go-ahead, any A120 improvements could be completed by 2011.

A survey in 2001 revealed two-thirds of local residents wanted the A120 between Harwich and Colchester upgraded, regardless of the Bathside Bay decision.

But this number increased to 90% if the controversial development did go ahead.

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