MOST OF the 70km stretch of the A12 from London to Ipswich will be widened to create a six lane super highway under recommendations expected before the end of the month.
The recommendation is expected to come from consultant Mott MacDonald which is leading the A12 London-Ipswich multi modal study. A two phase scheme will see the A12 widened to six lanes first between the M25 and Chelmsford by 2011 under an £83M scheme. This will be followed by 2016 with widening to six lanes to Colchester under a second, £57M project.
Sources close to the study said there was still some disagreement over whether the proposal is possible within existing highway boundaries. Much of the route is already 'very confined' without a hard shoulder.
After 2016 there could also be a further £85M widening to Ipswich through the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But this week the recommendation was still in the balance as it is known opposition to such plans would be strong.
However, it will also be recommended that 15km of the A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey should be dualled by 2011 under an £80M scheme, bringing the overall cost of measures around the A12 corridor to over £1.5bn.
The study, one of 35 transport corridor studies across the UK, will have to go to the South East Regional Assembly before it moves to secretary of state Alastair Darling's desk. It is also expected to recommend road user charging along the A12 after 2011 but road widening would still go ahead if it was 'too difficult' to impose charges soon after 2011.
lWS Atkin's Thames Valley multi modal study report, expected before the end of the year, is also set to recommend area wide road user charging rather than specific 'cordon based' schemes. This would cover an area including stretches of the M3 and the M40.
The study has concentrated on the delivery of public transport improvements with little extra capacity proposed on the M3 and the M40.