DRIVERS and residents are being encouraged to have their say on a £1billion scheme to improve one of Essex’s busiest roads.

An eight-week consultation has launched on plans to widen the A12 into three lanes between Chelmsford and Marks Tey.

Highways England says the improvement will save up to 12 minutes on daily journeys, will improve safety and will boost the economy.

Chelmsford Weekly News: Scheme - project director Steve Elderkin Scheme - project director Steve Elderkin

But drivers have been warned to expect delays during the four-year long project.

Following previous consultations, the A12 will be widened to three lanes between Chelmsford and Marks Tey with a new three lane bypass at Rivenhall End - plus a new bypass between Kelvedon north and Marks Tey.

Steve Elderkin, Highways England project director for the scheme, said: “The A12 is an important road which is the link between London and Ipswich and part of routes to ports and airports.

“It’s really heavily trafficked with up to 90,000 vehicles using it a day.

“At the moment, certainly on this section, people experience delays regularly and journey times are unreliable.”

Mr Elderkin said the scheme should allow motorists, who are driving daily between Chelmsford and Marks Tey to save an hour a week of time they currently spend in traffic.

For example, without the scheme is takes drivers an average of 26 minutes going northbound on that stretch during rush hour.

But once the scheme it complete the same journey should take 17 minutes - saving about nine minutes.

Mr Elderkin added: “It’s a big project so it would take about four years to construct the scheme.

Chelmsford Weekly News: Widening - a graphic of the plansWidening - a graphic of the plans

“During that construction window, we would need to have partial or full closures at points, so there is no question the construction period will have an impact on drivers.”

Highways England intends to submit its application for the scheme next summer.

Subject to development approval, road bosses expect to start construction at the end of 2023.

They expect to open the new road layout in 2027/2028.

Mr Elderkin said Essex Highways predicts, by 2042, that traffic and congestion will continue to worsen if the widening scheme does not go ahead.

He said: “Our predictions reach the design year of 2042 where there would be up to around 100,000 vehicles a day, but the increase in capacity is more than enough to deliver time saving to people.”

The consultation is running until August 16.

“The best time to contact us and share your views is over the next eight weeks,” Mr Elderkin added.

“If you have a thought, idea or concern, please tell us and look at our designs.”

To view the plans or the brochure go to, or call 0300 123 5000.