Safety improvements in place at notorious Southend junction

Work to make a dangerous Southend junction safer and avoid crashes and near misses has been completed after years of campaigning.

As part of a temporary overhaul of the Kent Elms junction, on the A127, a left-turn only lane has been introduced to avoid the notorious issue of three lanes merging into two as drivers head into Southend.

If an 18-month trial at the notorious bottleneck is successful, the changes will be implemented permanently.

Back in 2017, the road was widened at the junction in the hope of reducing traffic but councillors and residents have claimed the work only caused confusion for drivers and increased the risk of accidents.

After a concerted campaign and a motion put forward to the council by St Laurence ward councillor David McGlone, an investigation into its safety was carried out.

On Friday, five days of work were completed to create a dedicated left-hand turn only lane to Rayleigh Road.

Kevin Buck, councillor responsible for highways and parking. said: “I am delighted that after years of lobbying and inaction, as cabinet member I have now been able to get these changes at Kent Elms put in place.

“The east bound merge was incredibly short and many motorists and residents have said how unsafe they felt it was, especially when trying to get back in to two lanes from the three. There had also been numerous minor collisions here, some of which went unreported.”

Previously, concerns had been raised by Southend’s Council’s highways officers warned against altering the scheme as it could cause further traffic.

The officers worried that the left-hand only lane would have “low usage” and therefore the changes could lead to longer queues and increased traffic at the junction as drivers head into Southend.

Cllr Buck has now urged as many residents as possible to give the council feedback as part of the temporary changes so it can determine if they are effective.

He added: “The dedicated lanes remove the merge, making it much safer to cross the junction, meaning you can also turn left in to Rayleigh Road without fear of traffic racing up behind you.

“These changes has been done under an 18 month experimental order, hence the temporary nature of the traffic management infrastructure that has been put in. I would encourage as many as possible to provide their feedback through the council about these changes, as we welcome all feedback.”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter