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Essex/Suffolk: Should the A12 be upgraded to a motorway?

PUBLISHED: 11:20 21 March 2014 | UPDATED: 18:25 09 April 2014

The A12 junction at the A120 in Essex.

The A12 junction at the A120 in Essex.

Archant

Moves to transform one of Essex’s most congested transport routes into a motorway have been welcomed by key figures in the county.

Chelmsford MP Simon Burns wants to put an A12 upgrade on the Department for Transport infrastructure map in the wake of government promises to spend more on roads.

The long-serving Tory, speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, said coalition infrastructure spending ambitions made it an “opportune time” to put plans on the table again.

“I am realistic, this is not going to be one of their top priorities because there are other greater needs around the country, but you cannot just think short term, so it is worth getting the ball rolling to see what can be done,” he said.

Essex County Council’s highways chief Rodney Bass said he “totally endorsed” Mr Burns’ comments.

“These strategic routes are the economic lifeblood of Essex and Suffolk and they deserve far greater attention than we’ve had so far,” he said.

Mr Bass said the A12 was the country’s busiest route that was not yet a motorway and its upgrade was a “shared objective” of councils in Suffolk and Essex.

“This is a strategic route of national importance – not simply local importance – so it’s great to see these plans being debated,” he added.

“These sort of schemes represent far better value for money that the HS2 railway investment and we think that much more focus should be given to their upgrade.”

The Conservative councillor conceded there was “quite a lot of work to be done” before the motorway upgrade was agreed and called for more immediate attention to fix the “dangerous pinch points” along the route.

David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chamber of Commerce, also supported the proposal, claiming the current problems with congestion were a “frustration” for his members.

“It’s certainly an interesting concept,” he said.

“Whether we could get the government to agree to it is another matter but if we don’t field the ideas we won’t get the notice of the policy makers.

“The delays that businesses experience with the A12 is the sort of thing that causes frustration but also has knock on effects in terms of staffing problems, lost time and costs.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, fending Mr Burns’ questions, gave no clues about whether a plan would be a likely contender to receive a slice of the Transport budget, replying: “You make a very interesting suggestion and no doubt you will pursue this argument both with me and the authorities on a number of occasions to come.”

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