Budget promises cash commitment for road projects

The government has announced commitments to provide funding for the Army and Navy junction in Chelmsford in Boris Johnson’s first budget of his premiership.

The money committed to the Army and Navy was included in a package of other improvements for local road upgrades, just days after dismantling works at the Army and Navy flyover in Chelmsford passed the halfway point.

Five options are being developed as a replacement to the flyover – a minor road layout improvement, a two-way flyover, a hamburger roundabout, and enlarged roundabout or separate T-junctions.

The options vary in their advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, environmental impact and potential to increase the capacity of the junction and reduce congestion and delays.

Also included in the package were pledges over junction improvements to the A12 east of Ipswich, carriageway dualling and roundabout improvements on the A12 in Woodbridge and “junction improvements on the A127 growth corridor”  – leading to speculation that money may be available for the Fortune of War junction.

Interests for the Fortune of War being straightened had already been expressed by Essex County Council ahead of the budget announcement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

The part of the A127 around the Fortune of War junction is subject to a congestion charge that many say would not be necessary if the junction is straightened.

The cash announcement was made in conjunction with commitments to road projects across Essex as part Road Investment Strategy 2 (RIS2), in which the government has pledged to spend £27.4 billion during Road Period 2 (RP2), covering the financial years 2020/21 to 2024/25.

Included were schemes that have already been announced, such as the widening of the A12 to three lanes between junction 19 (north of Chelmsford) and junction 25 (A120 interchange).

This may include delivery of additional improvements around the site of the Colchester/Braintree border garden community, subject to support from the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

This scheme will need to take into account evolving proposals for the A120 Braintree to A12.

Work on the M11 Junction 7a, a new junction to the east of Harlow, improving access to the surrounding areas and reducing traffic on the nearby junction 7, is being scheduled to start in the summer.

This project is being delivered by Essex County Council, subject to a funding arrangement with Highways England.

The M25 Junction 28 – an upgrade of the junction between the M25 and A12 in Essex, providing a free-flowing link from the northbound M25 to the eastbound A12 Lower Thames Crossing – is still in a consultation phase.

Work is set to last two years after starting in June 2021.

A new crossing of the River Thames between Kent and Essex, together with supporting roads linking to the M25, A13 and M2, has also been included in RIS2.

Mr Sunak told the House of Commons: “Only by having a plan for prosperity will we grow the economy.

“Only by having a growing economy can we invest in our public services.

“And only by investing in our public services, the people’s priority, can we send a clear message to those who rely on them.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter