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A12 and a120 route management strategy


A12 and A120 Route Management Strategy

4 Background to A12 and A120

The A12 is the most easterly major national route between theThames and the Wash serving the Norfolk Broads, the towns and coastalarea of East Anglia, the holiday resorts of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth,and the ports of Felixstowe, Harwich, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Ipswich.Through Essex it forms the main north-south transport link connecting the townsof Brentwood, Chelmsford, Witham and Colchester both with each other, withNortheast London and with the east coast ports. It is, therefore, animportant route for the movement of freight, holiday traffic and commuters,and yet it also serves very local needs with some properties having directaccess onto it.
The A12 is a heavily trafficked road with some sections carrying upto 80,000 vehicles per day, of which up to 18% are HGV's. Strategic routescarrying such flows are often dual three lane motorways which have been builtto replace an older road. However, the A12 has been improved in a piecemealmanner over the past forty years, mainly as a series of bypasses, startingwith Ingatestone in 1959 and finishing with Chelmsford in 1986. This hasresulted in a variety of widths and standards as each section has beenimproved to the standards pertaining at the time of its improvement. Much ofthe road falls well below current standards such as slip road design, lengthsof acceleration lanes, lay-by design, provision of lighting, tightness of bends,and the provision of landscaping. It carries flows beyond its theoreticalcapacity which results in regular congestion hotspots especially if there isan incident or during essential maintenance operations.
The A120 from the A12 to Hare Green was built as a new dual carriageway aspart of Colchester Bypass in 1982. The section east of Hare Green is singlecarriageway with short sections of dual carriageway at some junctions. Overthe years it has been improved and bypasses constructed to take the trafficout of Wix and Harwich which were constructed in 1973 and 1981 respectively.
The A120 carries much less traffic than the A12 with up to 30,000 vehiclesper day on the dual carriageway section and up to 12,000 vehicles per day onthe single carriageway section. However, a large proportion of these are heavygoods vehicles and other vehicles travelling to and from the port at Harwich.Those arriving from abroad have been travelling on the opposite side of theroad and many of the drivers are neither familiar with the driving conditionsnor the language. Whilst the low standard single carriageway can accommodatethe traffic in purely capacity terms many consider it inappropriate as a nationalroute serving a developing port.
Over 100,000 new homes are planned within Essex by 2011 and around a half ofthese will be in the corridor served by the A12.
No major road improvements are currently planned for the lengths of eitherthe A12 or the A120 covered by this Strategy.