A12 inquiry29 Jul 2008

The Royal Automobile Club Foundation welcomes the findings of the A12 Inquiry, launched by Essex County Council in April, and calls on Government to restore the route to ‘national’ strategic road status and implement the Route Management Strategy as recommended in the Inquiry’s report. The Secretary of State should also recognise that the A12 is not the only major road in the country in need of similar attention, and that her roads policy should reflect the needs of the many neglected major routes.

The Inquiry highlights that:

* The A12 is under significant stress and it will get increasingly worse with the new housing and ports planned for Essex.
* There is inadequate day-to-day management of the vital route, which has led to a 1 in 30 chance that the A12 will be closed somewhere on any given day.
* A new Route Management Strategy is needed to provide for co-ordinated implementation of improvements and maintenance.
* The road should be upgraded to modern dual 2-lane standards; and HGV overtaking bans, speed limits and better quality lay-bys (and their facilities) should be considered.
* Reclassification of the route from ‘regional’ to ‘national’ significance is necessary for securing the funding needed for improvements.

David Holmes, Chairman of the RAC Foundation says, ‘It has taken a former Permanent Secretary of the Department for Transport, a former Minister for Roads and two of the country’s leading transport economists to cast a searchlight on this inadequate road. There are many national roads that need attention and action. The Secretary of State should follow Essex County Council’s example, and review urgently the many other non-motorway roads that are long overdue for upgrades and joined-up planning.

The report shows that the Department’s policy of abandoning responsibility of roads that are not motorways to regional bodies is no way to address the serious congestion and safety problems that these roads present. Either the regional allocations should be substantially increased, or Ministers themselves should take responsibility for settling priorities and finding the funding. This report clearly shows that doing nothing is no longer an option.’

The Foundation estimates that the whole programme of improvements envisaged in the report could be carried out at a cost of less than 1p a mile per user. Motorists already pay eight times that amount in fuel duty and VAT on fuel for a journey the length of the A12.