Work to ease traffic flow and improve air quality at a busy junction on the A127 will start on September 1.
Southend Council has appointed contractors, Eurovia Infrastructure Ltd, to carry out the £5m project to reconfigure The Bell Junction on the A127. Work is planned to continue through to summer 2021.
The project is the latest in a series of junction upgrades which collectively aim to ease congestion at pinch points along the A127 and accommodate both current and projected future traffic levels.
SELEP (South East Local Enterprise Partnership) has allocated £4.3 of the Department for Transport’s “local growth fund” towards the project, with the remainder of the cost being met through the council’s capital budget.
The new junction will improve traffic flow through the junction and help alleviate local air pollution by reducing queuing, which is a major contributing factor to poor air quality in the area surrounding the junction. This will help manage the increased traffic volumes expected with the ongoing development of the Airport Business Park, which is projected to create thousands of local jobs.
Cllr Ron Woodley, cabinet member for transport, capital and inward investment, said: “I’m delighted to see work starting on site at The Bell Junction, which is known to be a bottleneck route when accessing the town.
“Each A127 junction we have worked on has incrementally improved the flow of traffic along the primary route in and out of Southend and The Bell Junction upgrade is the latest part of this project. Alongside improvements to the A127 being carried out by Essex County Council in areas outside our borough, the combined effect when they are all complete will be much greater than the sum of their parts.
“It is vital that we improve traffic flows into and out of our town. Southend is growing in population, the Airport Business Park is near completion, and this alone is expected to create thousands of new jobs. So the work we are doing along the A127 helps ensure that our highways network is able to keep up with demand.
“But improving junctions on the A127 is only part of the solution. That’s why we’re working closely with other local authorities in South Essex, through ASELA [Association of South Essex Local Authorities] to influence and secure funding for necessary strategic infrastructure.
“Inevitably, roadworks will cause some disruption to motorists and local residents, but we will be working to keep this disruption to a minimum and are committed to keeping the public informed about when and where we will be working so they can make informed choices about their travel.”
Chairman of the South East Local Enterprise partnership Chris Brodie said: “We are delighted to see the works start on this important upgrade to the A127. This is an important gateway to the town, ensuring our transport corridors are functioning well is important for the vitality of the local economy.
“We have worked closely with partners at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to support their aims and ambitions for this fast-growing town and to deliver impactful projects which drive investment and growth, specifically at the nearby Airport Business Park”.
You can find out more about The Bell Junction upgrade by visiting www.southend.gov.uk/thebell. Here you can also sign-up to receive regular e-newsletters about the project. You can also receive updates by following the @bettersouthend Twitter account.
What will the new junction be like?
Key features of the project include:
- removing the ageing footbridge which does not comply with laws around access for disabled people;
- installing new pedestrian crossing facilities at ground level;
- building a new dedicated left-turn lane onto Rochford Road;
- extending the right-turn lane onto Hobleythick Lane;
- banning the underused right-turn onto Rochford Road, in order to free up more “green light” time for motorists going straight ahead along the A127 in both directions; and
- introducing attractive new landscaping in the green space at the north west of the junction.
When will work take place?
Autumn (September – November)
September 1 – Highways workers will start by building the new pedestrian island on Hobleythick Lane and moving kerb lines.
September 18 – The footbridge – which is ageing and does not comply with disability requirements owing to the lack of ramps – is scheduled to be removed during the weekend of September 18, for which overnight road closures will be in place.
Winter (December 2020 – February 2021)
Once the Hobleythick Lane work is complete, the contractor will work their way around the junction installing new pedestrian crossings on A127 and Rochford Road.
Spring (March – May 2021)
The contractor will then move onto installing the new dedicated slip lane into Rochford Road and extending the right-hand turn into Hobleythick Lane.
Summer (June – August 2021)
The last thing to complete will be resurfacing the carriageway and commissioning the traffic signals.
During these works the contractor will be providing school crossing patrol officers across the A127 during term times. The officers will be either on the east or west of the junction, depending on construction and pedestrian management.