£60m junction upgrades planned for A12 in Suffolk - here's what to expect
- Credit: Google Maps
Major £60million plans to upgrade the A12 east of Ipswich have been unveiled by highways chiefs, in a bid to improve traffic flow and capacity in the next four years.
Suffolk County Council has launched a consultation from 10am today for the public to have their say on the proposals, which aim to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow on the stretch of road between the A14 junction at Seven Hills and the Woods Lane junction.
It features plans to put traffic lights on each of the roundabouts except for the Seckford roundabout, introduce a dualled portion between the Seckford and Dobbies roundabouts, create dedicated cycle networks and expand some of the roundabouts and approach lanes.
The council's cabinet will sign off on an outline business case in the summer after public views have been taken into account, and a bid submitted to the Department for Transport's Major Road Network Fund by the autumn.
If approved, work will begin in autumn 2023 and be completed in 2025. The scheme is likely to cost between £40million and £60m, with 15% in local contributions being needed.
Highways chiefs said it was a project that was instrumental in boosting traffic flow and road capacity.
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Conservative cabinet member for highways, Andrew Reid, said: "The aim of the scheme is to enhance highway capacity at the A12 junctions between the A14 Seven Hills and the A1152 at Woods Lane near Melton.
"It will also provide a new section of dualled road and improve walking, cycling and public transport facilities.
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"We have developed our proposals by assessing traffic movements and traffic demand along this corridor, and the results of the analysis demonstrate that these junctions are likely to be over capacity and/or subject to significant congestion in future years, which in part is brought about by the traffic impacts associated with the planned growth and development in the area.
"The work proposed will help to mitigate these impacts and create a better environment for walking, cycling and public transport use."
The council said it recognised that some people did not like traffic lights on roundabouts, but the modelling data indicated that the measures would improve traffic flow.
Suzanne Buck, transport policy development manager, said they were "a way of addressing the imbalance of flows".
The lights are set to be 'intelligent flows' which will monitor congestion and adapt to the levels of traffic on the different arms of the roundabouts, and where possible connect along the length of the road.
The new dualled section will have a 50mph speed limit.
The plans will take into consideration traffic impacts anticipated from the potential Sizewell C and offshore windfarm proposals, with a "consistent" approach deemed crucial for the junctions, the authority said.
DfT projections indicated that portions of the A12 near Melton and Foxhall would see traffic increase by around a quarter by 2040, while junctions near Martlesham would have nearly 47,000 vehicle movements per day in the next 20 years.
The council confirmed there would be no requirement to build new homes to be eligible for the funding, like some other major roads schemes that failed to take off - such as the northern bypass and four villages bypass - have required.
Among some of the other specific improvements will be:
- A free-flow offslip at the Seven Hills junction coming from Felixstowe
- Widened lanes at the Foxhall Road junction
- Potential enlarging of the Barrack Square Adastral Park roundabout to make Gloster Road its own exit
- Traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing at the Anson Road mini-roundabout onto Tesco and Beardmore Park in Martlesham
- Increased and widened lanes at the Anson Road junction
- Traffic lights at the Portal Avenue junction of the A1214 close to the A12/A1214 junction, and widened approach to the A12 there
- A segregated free-flow lane at the Seckford junction northbound
- Segregated pedestrian and cycle path on the new dualled section between the Dobbies and Seckford roundabouts
- Subway improvements in Martlesham
Caroline Page, Woodbridge councillor from the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group, welcomed the additional cycle crossings at the Woods Lane and Seckford crossings, which she said were "superb" but raised other concerns.
She said: "I am anxious with the number of roundabouts with traffic lights.
"This is the trunk road all the way to Lowestoft, are they going to make life more simple or easier for anyone doing this journey? It's going to cause people to stop and start."
Ms Page said that the proposals were at odds with the authority's climate emergency declaration, claiming: "We are supposed to be reducing road traffic , we seem to be enabling it here".
She added: "There are lots of areas [on the A12] that are narrow and in need of improvement, so I would really question why it is so highly invested in the stretch here."
Councillor Sarah Adams, leader of the opposition Labour Group said: “I welcome any proposals that would help reduce congestion in and around Ipswich and deliver better walking, cycling and bus routes for local residents.
“However, this also feels like a missed opportunity. While the plans propose improvements to a relatively short stretch of existing dual carriageway, huge lengths of the A12 are still single track. We need a comprehensive upgrade to improve our key transport links between Ipswich, Felixstowe, and Lowestoft to fully unlock East Suffolk’s economic potential.”
The consultation begins from 10am today and runs until March 19. Responses can be submitted online here while details of virtual events discussing the proposals are also available.