December 16, 2015
We are committed to delivering a long term solution to the capacity and safety concerns on the A120 between Braintree and A12.
The A120 is part of the national strategic road network – a key road in Essex and beyond. The bottlenecks, delays and unreliable journey times are already impacting upon road users – and with year-on-year increases in traffic, there needs to be a long term solution.
We took this challenge to the Government, and following discussion with the Department of Transport and Highways England we secured an agreement that the Council would prioritise this work and lead a feasibility study to investigate solutions, in order to create a dual carriageway between Braintree and the A12. The outcome of this work would be a recommendation for a preferred option for the Government’s consideration.
What is a feasibility study?
Highways England has an established process for investigating strategic road solutions, generating options and progression through planning to a proposal in preparation for construction. The first stage of this work is a feasibility study. It includes gathering a body of evidence about the usage and capacity of the current road and anticipating future demand.
Following this work, a long list of potential solutions is created; then through a process of transportation planning, engineering and environmental assessment, the options are sifted in stages, to shorten the long list to a short list of options. For this study the most viable options will then be put to public consultation, so we can listen to the views of everyone who uses the road or lives in the area and to use this intelligence to select the best solution.
How is the study being delivered?
We have commissioned Jacobs, an international engineering company, to undertake the study. Jacobs already works extensively with Highway England and we are confident they will investigate all the possible options to help arrive at the best solution, while ensuring it robustly meets the technical processes approved by Highways England and is acceptable to the communities affected by the proposal. This is important to ensure that future stages of design, planning application and implementation can be progressed smoothly. The work will be overseen by a project board, which includes the Council, Jacobs and Highway England. Jacobs are also managing the public engagement activity to make sure that it is fully integrated into the technical development of the study.
What’s happening now?
The study has only just commenced. The technical work is currently in the options development stage where we are learning about the current traffic flow, journey types and future demand, in addition to creating a long list of potential route options, which include those put forward as alternatives during the 2005 consultation. This work will continue to the winter of 2016.
When can I get involved and find out more?
We are committed to informing and engaging with a wide range of interested parties on the project. To help with this we will be holding local forums on a quarterly basis from February 2016. These forums we will be able to update anyone who wishes to know more about the study’s progress as well as enabling the study team to learn more about local issues, concerns and how best to engage and communicate with communities, organisations and all interested parties who use or are impacted by this section of the A120. Check out the Forum page to find out more.
When will this work be complete?
The feasibility study and our final recommendation of a preferred option needs to be completed by the end of 2017 in order for it to be considered by the Secretary of State Transport as part of his deliberations into which schemes are included in Highways England’s Road Investment Strategy 2020-2025.
What’s happening next?
The timeline for the project might seem long for a feasibility study but we have accelerated the process to reduce the time required whilst still ensuring that it is a rigorous and compliant process. Option development will utilise most of 2016, and we expect to hold the public consultation in the winter of 2016/17. We are committed to a clear and transparent process, but we do need your patience as there will be periods where there is no new information to share as the work progresses through its technical stages. We remain committed to releasing information timely and will publicise project updates on this website as the study progresses.