A120 Newsletter April 21

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Early 2022 - a key date for A120 scheme


PARAMJOT KAUR KINGSTON

A preferred route to upgrade the A120 between Braintree and the A12 could be in place early next year.

Highways England is working towards the date as it takes forward the dual carriageway project having taken over the scheme from Essex County Council.

Over the past few months, the council has handed over its work on the upgrade which had resulted in a favoured route, known as Option D, running from Galleys Corner on the edge of Braintree and joining the A12 at Junction 23 south of Kelvedon.

Highways England is now reviewing and validating the scheme as part of the Government’s Road Investment Strategy, in which the A120 upgrade is currently a ‘pipeline’ project.

One of over 30 pipeline schemes in the country, the A120 is more advanced than most but, to go ahead, will ultimately need Ministerial approval.

To achieve this, Highways England is now building a case with the aim of announcing its preferred route for the road early next year.


Upgrade to boost prosperity and the economy, plus support a low carbon future and sustainable environment

PARAMJOT KAUR KINGSTON

Essex County Council believes the A120 scheme offers a not-to-be missed opportunity to deliver a wide-range of improvements over and above the provision of a new road.

A major driver behind the scheme is the economy with the county council’s work identifying a 4.51 benefit-to-cost ratio, meaning for every £1 million spent upgrading the A120, residents, road users and businesses will see £4.51 million in benefits.

With an estimated £2.2 billion added to the local economy through new jobs, business and housing, the A120 scheme greatly supports growth and future prosperity across the county, while also providing an opportunity to work with communities close to the scheme.

This is seen as vital in the county’s recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the scheme expected to unlock 20,000 new, while improved journey times are a key factor in businesses being able to make the most of opportunities offered by Brexit.

With the council determined to promote a low carbon future and sustainable environment, the scheme has clear environmental and integrated transport features.

For example, the environment benefits with the scheme triggering significant air quality improvements at Bradwell and Marks Tey, communities which will be bypassed by the new road. The growing move to electric vehicles will further reduce vehicle emissions, while the council has also identified an opportunity to plant about 250,000 trees to reduce the carbon footprint of the scheme.

Passenger transport could be greatly improved by making it easier to access rail services and using the route of the old road for improved bus services and better connections between new and existing communities. This includes a possible extension to the rapid transit system being developed in North Essex.

Meanwhile, cycling and walking routes would be enhanced, including construction of a new cycleway alongside the A120, linking Kelvedon and Braintree, additional connections to improved facilities created by the A12 widening scheme plus links to Colchester, Chelmsford and the wider National Cycleway network in Essex.


The benefits that A120 improvement scheme would bring

Highways England says the A120 is a key route for the local and national economy. It points to commuters, freight, residents and businesses suffering daily lengthy delays on the single-carriageway road, which costs the country millions of pounds every year. Highways England highlights the following benefits of an upgraded A120:

  • Improving road safety -The scheme is expected to result in a significant reduction in collisions, including on the existing A120 and the local roads used as ‘rat-runs’ when the A120 road is congested.
  • Improving user satisfaction - The scheme would reduce delays caused by congestion, make journey times more reliable and increase the overall transport capacity of the A120 corridor. This would be expected to improve user satisfaction significantly.
  • Supporting the smooth flow of traffic: The scheme will make journey times more reliable by reducing delays from congestion, reducing the number of collisions and improving the resilience of road network. This will help the A120 corridor to cope with incidents such as collisions, breakdowns, road works and maintenance, and flooding.
  • Encouraging economic growth:The scheme is expected to reduce travel delays, underpin new housing and economic growth, and enable businesses to flourish.
  • Delivering better environmental outcomes:The scheme should help reduce road noise.
  • Helping cyclists, walkers, and other vulnerable road users:Opportunities for providing new and better road crossings are being considered.
  • Achieving efficiency -The proposed routes would mainly be constructed away from the current A120 road, which helps to make construction schedules more reliable, with less road closures and roadworks needed to complete the new road. 
  • Keeping the road network in good condition - A new dual carriageway would replace about nine miles (15km) of the A120 single carriageway which currently needs significant maintenance on its road surface.

Businesses urge Chancellor to back new dual carriageway

PARAMJOT KAUR KINGSTON

The economic importance of upgrading the A120 as soon as possible has been stressed in a letter to the Chancellor.

Local businesses and politicians wrote to Rishi Sunak following the confirmation of Brexit and the announcement of the new Freeport East at Harwich and Felixstowe. 

Urging Mr Sunak to support the earliest possible delivery of the new dual carriageway, they explained that seven out of ten local businesses would benefit from the upgrade.

It had the potential to ensure the A120 could serve as a post-Brexit gateway between Britain and the rest of the world by providing an effective link between Harwich and Stansted, plus supporting vital connections to the new Freeport East.

They also emphasised the current case for the improvement scheme, which showed a £2.2 billion gross value economic enhancement, with a series of financial benefits including:

  • Costed journey time savings - £1.2 billion
  • Wider economic impacts (productivity) - £280 million
  • Freight - £350 million
  • Journey time reliability - £48 million
  • Safety improvements (fewer accidents) – £25 million
  • Council tax receipts - £48.7 million

Airport to Seaport - early planning important for east Essex

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While progressing an upgrade of the A120 between Braintree and the A12, politicians say the Government should also be looking at upgrading another section of the road.

MPs and councillors told Whitehall that improving the A120 between Hare Green and Harwich should also be on the Department for Transport’s agenda, particularly following Brexit and the announcement of Freeport East. There was an ideal opportunity to start early planning of a dual carriageway and the longer term benefits it would undoubtedly bring with a fit-for-purpose airport (Stansted) to seaport (Harwich) connection.

Meanwhile, with many businesses hit hard by the Covid pandemic, it was right that everything was done to help them, including investing in new and upgraded transport infrastructure so they could build for the future.