Fresh calls made for support as funding decision over A120 looms
PUBLISHED: 10:33 04 June 2019
The campaign to secure investment to dual the A120 has been reignited at a major meeting headed by Witham MP Priti Patel and Essex County Council's deputy leader, Kevin Bentley.
With the Government set to make key decisions in the autumn on future investment in major roads, Ms Patel and Councillor Bentley called on all communities, businesses, elected representatives and local councils to come together and send a strong unified message in support of the A120.
Dualling the A120 along a new route between Braintree and the A12 could provide the region with a £2.2billion economic boast, Essex County Council has said, supporting businesses, job creation, inward investment and housing.
The scheme, to replace the current single-carriageway stretch, would also improve safety and reduce journey times during rush hour by an estimated 19 minutes, the county council added.
Ms Patel said: "The A120 is a major economic corridor connecting businesses to towns and international hubs but for years it has been unsafe and the cause of accidents, congestion and delays. For too long the stretch between Braintree and the A12 has not been fit for purpose and we now have a once in a generation opportunity to secure investment in upgrade this road.
"Ten years ago the then Government scrapped a dualling scheme but there is now a new pot of money available from central Government which we can bid for. A strong and compelling case has been put forward but with competition from across the country we need to campaign hard to secure Government funding. This means harnessing support from businesses and communities and presenting to the Government a unified voice from across the region.
"I have been pressing the case for the A120 to Government ministers in meetings and in the House of Commons so they know how important this road is and this campaign is one we should all back."
Addressing a meeting at County Hall in Chelmsford, Cllr Bentley, cabinet member for infrastructure, said: "Put simply, the opportunity to upgrade this woefully inadequate road is too good to miss.
"With the current A120 we have the only single-carriageway road in the UK with a major airport at one end and a major international seaport at the other.
"Our proposed dual carriageway will address this and unlock economic growth and other benefits to businesses and local communities equating to £4.5 million for every £1 million spent.
"Therefore, we should all get behind this scheme and ensure those making decisions about funding are in no doubt about its importance."
If this is agreed in the autumn, it is hoped construction, which would take three years, could start in 2023.