Major regional businesses met to show their support for proposals for an A120 dual carriageway.
They joined politicians for the creation of a business board and the establishment of A120 Campaign Champions.
These are key parts of a campaign to persuade the Government to include the £550 million dualling scheme in the Government’s next multi-billion pound strategic roads investment programme (Road Investment Strategy (RIS) 2, 2020-2024).
Following lobbying from Witham MP Priti Patel, the Government provided match-funding to support Essex County Council develop the dualling scheme proposals which businesses in Essex and throughout the East of England are backing.
Priti said: “It’s great to see so many key businesses and major employers supporting the proposals to dual the A120.
“We all recognise the huge economic benefits to growth and job creation throughout the region of this scheme and it is vital that the Government listens to the strong case we are putting forward and agrees to fund the dualling of the A120.
“The A120 is a major economic corridor and dualling the road to meet growing demand will reduce congestion, improve safety, be better for the environment and turbo-charge our economy.”
The A120 connects Stansted airport with Harwich port and it the only strategic road in the country connecting two major international hubs with a single-carriageway stretch.
The proposed dualling scheme will add £2.2 billion in gross value to the economy, support the creation of up to 20,000 jobs, reduce traffic through local villages and reduce accidents.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, a driving force for the upgrade, said more than 500 businesses had already signed a petition calling for Government investment in an upgraded A120.
“For too long this major economic corridor has been unfit for purpose, stifling business growth. It is the only single carriageway road in the UK with a major international airport at one end and a major international seaport at the other.
“This cannot be allowed to continue when we have a scheme that will bring a huge economic boost, with up to 20,000 jobs unlocked and £350 million in benefit to freight traffic, with safer, faster and more reliable journeys.”
Essex Chambers of Commerce were among those to back the politicians’ call for businesses to join communities, elected representatives and local councils to unify in support of the A120 proposal for a new route between Braintree and the A12.
David Burch, Director of Policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, who addressed the meeting, said: “Whether you are running a SME or a major company, access to a good road network is essential to the success of your business and the A120 is a vital part of Essex’s network. The unfortunate fact, though, is that our members tell us that the road isn’t fit for purpose and costs them both time and money through delays and closures. Essex Chambers are pleased, therefore, to be working with Priti Patel MP and Cllr Kevin Bentley to keep up the pressure on the Government to bring forward the necessary investment to ensure both the businesses and residents of Essex get a road that is reliable for every user of it.”
Because of the importance and popularity of the project, DfT and Highways England are being urged to provide funding for the scheme through the Road Investment Strategy programme.
If this is agreed in the Autumn, it is hoped construction, which would take three years, could start as soon as 2023.
In March 2020, the government announced details of its latest Road Investment Strategy (RIS2), covering April 2020 to March 2025.
The strategy outlines how the government will be investing £27.4 billion in maintaining, improving and building capacity in the strategic road network during the 2020-25 period, including £2.2 billion for the east of England.
The document also looks further ahead and includes a list of ‘pipeline projects’ which will undergo more analysis and design work ahead of being considered for potential future investment.
The A120 Braintree to A12 was identified as a pipeline project and will now be progressed by Highways England.
For more information, email A120braintreetoA12@highwaysengland.co.uk