To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects work to commence on upgrading the A12 Chelmsford bypass from a two-lane to a three-lane road.
Consultants are working on possible route options, and we plan to publish them in the summer of next year.
Is my hon. Friend aware that prior to the opening of the A12 Chelmsford bypass in 1986, the Army and Navy roundabout in Chelmsford was the most heavily congested traffic blackspot in the country? After that bypass opened, congestion was greatly reduced—but it is beginning to increase again because of the greater use of the A12 as a route into the hinterland of East Anglia, to the ports of Ipswich, Harwich and Felixstowe. Will my hon. Friend bear it in mind that the sooner a third lane is constructed to alleviate Chelmsford traffic, the happier will be my constituents?
My hon. Friend gives a timely reminder of the benefits of investment in our roads infrastructure. I am grateful for his congratulations to the Government on the completion of the Chelmsford bypass. We are committed to improving it further as a result of increased traffic, which is largely a consequence of the success of the east coast ports.
As this might be my last opportunity to draw the attention of my hon. Friend the Minister to the topic of the proposed M12 between Chelmsford and the M25, I seek his assurance that when he receives alternative proposals for that motorway's line of route, he will take into account that such a motorway may not be required. That is the overwhelming response that I have received, and I suspect that the same is true of my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Mr. Burns). Rather than presume that a motorway is required, will my hon. Friend the Minister acknowledge that there is at least one other option—to leave things as they are?
Certainly the Government will take into account all the views expressed during the consultation period.My hon. Friend's successor will have a hard act to follow: the diligence and commitment that my hon. Friend has given to his constituents have been exemplary.