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ESSEX Council has unveiled a raft of proposed solutions to constant congestion at Southend’s Army and Navy junction.
Options being considered include an enlarged roundabout and a new, two-way flyover.
The highways authority said the city centre junction was ‘significantly over capacity’ and suffered ‘severe congestion’ during both the morning and evening rush hours. It is used by roughly 60,000 vehicles per day.
Delays on the five-arm roundabout have worsened since highways bosses were forced to permanently close the existing one-way flyover after structural problems were discovered.
A spokesman said: “It is therefore vital we provide a long-term, sustainable solution that is an asset to everyone living, working or visiting the city, and which does not put additional pressure on other roads in the city.”
However, a senior councillor said no decision was likely to be taken and implemented until 2021.
In the meantime, residents have been ‘encouraged to play their part by avoiding driving at peak periods, or switching to other modes of transport, such as bikes, buses or walking’.
One option under consideration is a ‘hamburger roundabout’, also known as a ‘throughabout’, where traffic between Essex Yeomanry Way and Parkway would be able to travel through the centre of the roundabout, but traffic in other directions would have to go around it.
In that eventuality, traffic signals would be used to manage flows.
Another option is an enlarged roundabout, expanding it into the nearby floodplain, with widened approach lanes on Parkway. Traffic flow would again be managed by signals.
A two-way flyover is also being considered, ‘allowing a significant amount of tragic to avoid the roundabout’.
A fourth option would be ‘a package of minor improvements’ to the surrounding road network, including extending the Parkway to Chelmer Road sliproad, adding an extra lane to the roundabout between Parkway and Essex Yeomanry Way and adding an extra entry lane to the roundabout from Essex Yeomanry Way.
This option would also include improvements to pedestrian and cycling routes.
A fifth solution being proposed is to create two new T-junctions. One would link Essex Yeomanry Way/Parkway and Chelmer Road. The other would link Essex Yeomanry Way/Parkway to Van Diemans Road.
Traffic signals would be used to control flow at the junctions.
Deputy council leader Kevin Bentley, lead member for infrastructure, said: “We are working incredibly quickly to develop the best possible scheme for Army and Navy. The junction is a crucial gateway to Chelmsford.
“I am very pleased to now be in a position to share the initial options that we are exploring at this early stage and we look forward to giving the public the opportunity to have their say on a revised shortlist of options at a later date, which is expected to be in late 2020 or early 2021.”
The one-way flyover had to be closed repeatedly in summer 2018 after a supporting column was found to have moved, which the council blamed on ‘record high temperatures’.
It was reopened but in summer 2019 similar problems were again detected and a full survey was commissioned.
The inspection discovered ‘defects within the concrete foundations’ and the structure was permanently closed.
The council is now ‘seeking to have the structure removed as soon as possible’. That work is expected to begin in 2020.