A12 widening scheme faces indefinite delays and 'businesses will suffer'
Businesses could suffer after a £250 million plan to widen and improve the A12 were indefinitely delayed, an expert has claimed.
David Burch, the Director of Policy for Essex Chamber of Commerce highlighted that the proposed changes to the A12 between Marks Tey and Boreham should be completed at the “earliest opportunity.”
The group, which represents the interests of a large number of businesses in the area, also said that “further delay will cost businesses of all types and sizes real money” due to vehicles being sat in stationary positions.
Plans to widen the A12 were delayed last week following proposals to build more than 40,000 homes in north Essex.
It was hoped that work could soon begin on one of four options for widening carriageways to ease traffic between Boreham and Marks Tey as early as 2020.
However, Highways England have now announced that the scheme, which will cost £250 million, cannot go ahead until the impact on as many as 20,000 homes around Marks Tey is calculated.
Mr Burch said: “The A12 is a very busy road which suffers major congestion at peak times and is often closed because of accidents, so we want to see the planned improvements started at the earliest opportunity.
“We know from talking to our members that further delay will cost businesses of all types and sizes real money due to vehicles being sat in stationary queues rather than travelling to their planned destination.
“This is a major route through the county ultimately linking the rest of the country with our ports at Tilbury and London Gateway as well as to the M25 and the Dartford Crossing.
“It is important for not just the Essex economy but also the UK’s that this issue is resolved as soon as possible”.
It is estimated that as many as 90,000 vehicles travel between junctions 19 and 25 every day and it is expected that traffic will exceed capacity by 2038.
There have also been 101 collisions in the past five years on this stretch of road, with three being fatal and 12 serious.
Following the news, Peter Havlicek, programme leader of the A12 Chelmsford to A120 widening scheme, said in a letter to Witham MP Priti Patel: “The delivery of the scheme has been delayed to accommodate the emerging local housing proposals for the North Essex Garden Community at Marks Tey.
"We are unable to progress the A12 scheme until we know the impact of these proposals.
“We remain in close contact with Essex County Council, Colchester Borough Council and Braintree District Council, looking to accommodate the housing scheme and align the A12 accordingly.”
The three sites, based west of Braintree, on the Braintree and Colchester border and on the Colchester and Tendring border could produce 43,000 new homes along the north Essex A120 corridor.
This in turn may bring significant employment opportunities and transformational new infrastructure over the next 50 years.
The scheme has gone beyond the progress report stage with the decision expected to be released in the summer of 2018.
If the development is to go ahead then Essex County Council have confirmed that they may need to put forward new plans that will reconsider the road alignment between junctions 24 and 35.
essexliveEssex County Council issued the following statement:
“Essex County Council is aware of the delay to the announcement of a preferred route for the A12 scheme.
"We understand the need for Highways England to take account of emerging local plan proposals and we will continue to work with the Highways Agency and other local partners to support the new road build and accompanying infrastructure.”