Firms come together to show their support for A120 campaign
- Credit: Archant
Firms from across the region met to show their support for proposals for an A120 dual carriageway.
The firms joined politicians on July 11 in Chelmsford for the creation of a business board and the establishment of A120 campaign champions.
The board and campaign champions are key elements of a campaign to persuade the Government to include the £550million dualling scheme in the next multi-billion pound strategic roads investment programme - road investment strategy (RIS) two, 2020-2024.
The A120 connects Stansted airport with Harwich port and it the only strategic road in the country connecting two major international hubs with a single-carriageway stretch.
The proposed dualling scheme will add £2.2billion in gross value to the economy, it has been claimed, and support the creation of up to 20,000 jobs, reduce traffic through local villages and reduce accidents.
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Following lobbying from Witham MP Priti Patel, the Government provided match-funding to support Essex County Council to develop the dualling scheme proposals which businesses in Essex and throughout the East of England are backing.
Ms Patel said: "It's great to see so many key businesses and major employers supporting the proposals to dual the A120.
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"We all recognise the huge economic benefits of this scheme to growth and job creation throughout the region and it is vital that the Government listens to the strong case we are putting forward and agrees to fund the dualling of the A120.
"The A120 is a major economic corridor and dualling the road to meet growing demand will reduce congestion, improve safety, be better for the environment and turbo-charge our economy."
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council cabinet member for infrastructure said more than 500 businesses had already signed a petition calling for Government investment in an upgraded A120.
He said: "For too long this major economic corridor has been unfit for purpose, stifling business growth. It is the only single carriageway road in the UK with a major international airport at one end and a major international seaport at the other.
"This cannot be allowed to continue when we have a scheme that will bring a huge economic boost, with up to 20,000 jobs unlocked and £350 million in benefit to freight traffic, with safer, faster and more reliable journeys."
Essex Chambers of Commerce were among those to back the politicians' call for businesses to join communities, elected representatives and local councils to unify in support of the A120 proposal for a new route between Braintree and the A12.
David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce, who addressed the meeting, said: "Whether you are running a SME or a major company, access to a good road network is essential to the success of your business and the A120 is a vital part of Essex's network."
If this is agreed in the autumn, it is hoped construction, which would take three years, could start as soon as 2023.