Options development and assessment.

Traffic Summary Note
September 15, 2016
Consultation dates announced
December 23, 2016

Options development and assessment.

December 9, 2016

Options development and assessment.

The process for developing options for any major road scheme is set by Highways England and national guidance.

Figure 1 below shows the steps between starting the A120 Braintree to A12 Feasibility Study to the current list of nine options and finally refined to consultation options


Figure 1 – Option development process





Issues identification and setting objectives

The first step was to identify issues and problems on the current A120. Many will be well known by local and long distance road users, such as congestion, incidents and unreliable journey times

The project team then set objectives. These are the goals or purpose of any ‘new’ option. :

The A120 Braintree to A12 Feasibility Study objectives are:

  • Provide and maintain physical infrastructure that facilitates housing and economic growth and enables businesses to flourish.
  • Reduce congestion related delay, improve journey time reliability and increase the overall transport capacity of the A120 corridor.
  • Increase the resilience of the transport network by improving the ability of the A120 corridor to cope with incidents such as collisions, breakdowns, maintenance and flooding.
  • Improve safety for all road users and road workers within the A120 corridor.
  • Improve the environmental impact of transport on communities along the existing A120 corridor and reduce the impact of new infrastructure on the natural and built environment by design.
  • Improve connectivity within communities and to the wider transport network by reducing severance and increasing accessibility for local residents.
  • Improve the quality and connectivity of transport provision within the A120 corridor for people using non-motorised forms of transport, such as pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Encourage alternatives to car travel through improvements to the attractiveness of public transport along the A120 corridor.


Creating a long list of options

The first step in generating options is to create a long list of potential options. These are high level and have minimal technical design. The long list of options was created from:

  • previous studies,
  • the response to the 2005 consultation and any options in the public domain
  • Options are generated in an options workshop (specialist from organisation such as Fire and Rescue service, Police service and Local Authority officers)


Distilling options

Once a long list has been created each option is looked at in more detail and merged any that were similar and removing any options that would be immediately rejected due to their environmental impact.

The options were then sifted to select a smaller number of options to take forward to the next stage of evaluation.

Sifting is where we assess each option against the objectives and see which ones perform best. The DfT Early Assessment Sifting Tool and transport appraisal process was used as part of the sifting process. This includes criteria such as is it the right strategic fit, does it show value for money, is there a financial and commercial case for doing it, and can it be delivered.

Each option is scored in relation to how well it meets the objectives on a zero to five scale. At this point any option which scored less than two was discarded.

The sifting process created a short list of nine top performing options to take forward to the next stage of assessment and design. These are show in Figure 2 below:


Figure 2: A120 options development: – Nine possible options.





Next steps

The nine possible options will now be compared against a series of criteria, relating to environmental risk, engineering considerations and value for money, in addition to some further design development to take account of evolving information.

A final sift will then take place and determine the best performing optoins to take forward to consultation.

The consultation is scheduled to take place in early 2017. Please visit www.a120essex.co.uk for more information.


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

A120 Braintree to A12 - Highways England 

View: Press Release - A120 Upgrade Drives Forward

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