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Essex highways chiefs prefer new A120 junction with A12 at Rivenhall – but cannot commit yet

PUBLISHED: 16:13 16 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 16 November 2017

Queues on the A120 at Marks Tey. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Queues on the A120 at Marks Tey. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Pagepix Ltd 07976 935738 (permission to use on any A120 story)

A report on feasibility studies for a new dualled A120 in Essex suggests a new junction with the A12 at Rivenhall would be the preferred option – but cannot be committed to at this stage in the project.

Graphic showing the five original shortlisted routes for the new A120 across Essex. Image: ARCHANT GRAPHICS UNITGraphic showing the five original shortlisted routes for the new A120 across Essex. Image: ARCHANT GRAPHICS UNIT

The East Anglian Daily Times revealed this morning how Essex County Council’s cabinet was being asked to submit four possible route options to government, with only one – route A, which used part of the existing A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey – being ruled out.

However examination of the cabinet papers, published today, shows that based on current studies and consultation responses route D is the preferred choice of Essex Highways, followed by route E and then route C.

Option D is the best value for money, cheapest, lowest risk, and third most-favoured by the public, while E is slightly higher cost but also of slightly more economic benefit, was second-favourite in the consultation, and could become the first choice after more viability studies.

Both D and E connect to the A12 between Rivenhall and Kelvedon.

Meanwhile route C has the biggest transport benefit, but is the most expensive at an estimated £825million and least value for money, and has environmental impacts which may be difficult to mitigate. The report says after further studies route C, which connects to the A12 at Easthorpe, could become the preferred option – but is less likely to do so than option E.

Options A and B are unlikely to become preferred routes.

Despite this analysis, senior councillors are not being asked to pick a preferred route at next week’s cabinet meeting.

The report suggests that as the final decision rests with government, if County Hall backs a different option then the whole scheme could fail as the chosen route would lack the necessary public and political support to get funding.

The East Anglian Daily Times is campaigning to Dual the A120, but does not back any specific routeThe East Anglian Daily Times is campaigning to Dual the A120, but does not back any specific route

The A120 project is currently on track for inclusion within the government’s Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2), which would mean it has funding between 2020-2025.

The report states: “In the absence of an overwhelmingly strong single candidate option, there is a significant risk any option chosen by Essex County Council (ECC) as a favoured option could differ from the option identified by Highways England. The A120 scheme could then fail to gain entry to RIS2 due to a lack of political and public support. This situation represents a very high risk to ECC’s reputation.

“There would be a slightly lower (although still high) risk, if ECC announced a favoured option but stated that other options were still acceptable.

“Having previously stated its intention to announce a favoured option, this may be disappointing to the public. However, it is considered this risk is outweighed by the benefits of demonstrating that progress is being made.”

Essex County Council’s cabinet meets on Thursday, November 23.

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