Chelmsford’s Army and Navy flyover to take 13 weeks to pull down

Chelmsford’s Army and Navy and Navy flyover could take as many as 13 weeks to pull down with costs of the works estimated to be around £380,000, it has been revealed.

Work to remodel the junction may not start until 2023, leaving Chelmsford commuters faced with congestion problems at the junction for years.

Although work to demolish the Army and Navy flyover has now taken a significant step forward, with firms invited to formally bid for the work, Essex County Council has yet to formally agree that demolition is the best way forward.

Several specialist contractors have already expressed an interest in removing the flyover in Chelmsford and they will be encouraged to firm up that interest when the tender documents go out next month.

Demolition and ‘making good’ has been estimated to take 13 weeks.

The council has said taking down the flyover “offers opportunity to improve traffic flows in the area in the longer term.

“It removes the maintenance liability and offers some programme savings on future work at the junction.”

In September it announced the flyover would be permanently closed after a detailed engineering report revealed new defects within its concrete foundations.

The council is now seeking to have the structure removed as soon as possible and is also continuing to work on a long-term solution to ease congestion and delays at the junction.

Initial options for the junction will be shared with the public for the first time this autumn.

A full public consultation on a revised shortlist of options will follow later once detailed testing and modelling has been completed.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council and cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “The Army and Navy is a crucial gateway to Chelmsford and, together with the support of the Army and Navy Taskforce, we are working incredibly hard on options for a long-term solution.

“In the meantime, we are looking to remove the flyover and have already had a strong response from companies interested in the demolition. I am pleased they will soon be able to formally bid for the work.

“I would like to assure people that we are doing everything we can to progress as quickly as possible with both the removal of the flyover and the development of potential long-term improvements at the junction.

“However, we must also ensure we get it right and provide a sustainable solution that is an asset to the city which does not put additional pressure on other roads in the city centre.”

Alongside the structural issues with the flyover, the Army and Navy junction experiences high levels of congestion at busy times.

It sees 60,000 vehicles per day using the interchange, with 10,000 of these vehicles using the tidal flyover.

Given the importance of the flyover, a special Taskforce Panel has been established which has a vision to create ‘a long-term solution for the Army and Navy Roundabout which leads to improved traffic and increased people throughput in the area in the future’.

However, the option to repair the structure has now been officially ruled out.

Doing so would involve major maintenance work, which would cost as much as £1.8million and would take 39 weeks.

However, this would “only offer between one and two years of use before it is taken out to accommodate the junction remodelling that is likely through the work of the Army and Navy taskforce.”

The council has agreed “efforts made to limit disruption to off peak hours”, should be identified for the breaking up of the flyover a short distance from the flyover.

Birds sometimes nest within the structure, and if work does not commence before bird nesting season, measures will be introduced to limit the potential for nesting on the structure.

The work and budget required to modify the ramp island areas to accommodate additional traffic lanes has not been considered.

The current 20mph traffic order on the flyover would need to be revoked.

It is expected a Strategic Outline Business Case will be submitted to DfT in December 2020 with an Outline Business Case following in Spring 2021.

Subject to funding, resolution of any land issues, negotiation with utilities, planning permission and the procurement of a suitable contractor it is then expected that a final business case and construction could commence in 2023.

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter