Campaigners have applauded news that Highways England is to progress a major road scheme in Essex.
They say the upgrade of the A120, from Braintree to the A12, to a dual carriageway will deliver a valuable boost to the county economy, benefiting businesses, creating jobs and unlocking growth in the area.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council, said it remained crucial that the A120 was upgraded as quickly as possible.
He said: “The A120 is the only single-carriageway road in the UK with a major international airport, Stansted, at one end and a major international seaport, Harwich, at the other.
“It is, therefore, in urgent need of an upgrade, a project that will add £2.2 billion in gross value to the local economy through new jobs, business and housing while dramatically improving road safety.
“I am, therefore delighted to see Highways England’s commitment to including the road in their programme.”
Together with Witham MP, Priti Patel, Cllr Bentley headed the campaign to secure funding for the road. This was supported by local businesses with more than 500 signing a petition to back investment in an upgraded A120.
In addition, the campaign saw overwhelming public support for an improvement scheme with four out of five of the 2,795 responses to public consultation in 2017 agreeing that there was a need to upgrade the A120 to a dual carriageway.
Priti Patel MP said: “The case for dualling the A120 is strong and compelling and I have raised it directly with Ministers in Government.”
“Upgrading the A120 will provide huge economic benefits to the region, will reduce congestion, improve journey times and make this road safer.
“I have been pleased to work with Essex County Council to get this scheme brought forward and will continue to work with them and Highways England to develop the plans further.
“We will carry on working with businesses and local communities to highlight the importance of this infrastructure improvement and to get the funding for the scheme secured.”
In conjunction with Highways England, Essex County Council developed the A120 improvement plan, while campaigning for Government funding for the work.
As a result, the Government’s latest Road Investment Strategy RIS2, covering April 2020 to March 2025, includes the A120 Braintree to A12 as a ‘pipeline’ scheme to be taken forward by Highways England, with the road scheme being further developed between now and 2025, for subsequent construction.
Essex County Council is currently in the process of handing over to Highways England all work to date on the project, including the authority’s favoured route option for the new road, known as Option D, running from Galleys Corner at Braintree to a new junction with the A12, south of Kelvedon.
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