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× Shortlist of junction improvement options confirmed as part of Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package
28/01/2021
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Plans to transform the way people travel in Chelmsford have moved a step closer after the expected shortlist of improvement options for the Army and Navy junction was agreed ahead of public consultation in the summer.

Essex County Council has been thoroughly evaluating four options for the junction - a hamburger roundabout, enlarged roundabout, two-way flyover and separate T-junctions. Assessment has looked at the effects on congestion, journey times and use of sustainable modes of transport, as well as environmental and construction impacts.

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Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package

About the junction

The Army and Navy junction in Chelmsford is a key gateway into and out of the city and is used by up to 70,000 vehicles a day and 72 buses an hour.

The junction consists of a five-arm roundabout, which until 2019 had a tidal flyover that carried one-way traffic (cars only) to and from the A1060/A1114 over the roundabout.

The junction is already operating significantly over capacity during the morning and evening peak times.

As a result, it suffers from severe congestion and bus passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers regularly experience delays. This also results in it being a poor-quality environment for all road users.

The situation is expected to get worse in the future unless we do something differently.

To begin to solve the problems, we cannot keep building new roads and need to instead provide more options for people to travel, encouraging safer, greener and healthier ways of getting around the city, especially for shorter journeys where we want walking or cycling to be the natural choice.

Improvements to the Army and Navy junction are long overdue and various layout options have been developed which, together with proposed sustainable transport improvements, would provide a long-term solution that is an asset to the city. 

The design, planning and development of any scheme is still likely to take a number of years and will require funding to be secured.
The Chancellor announced in the 2020 Spring Budget that the project had been approved to proceed to the next stage of development for consideration for funding.

Funding is being pursued from the Government's Major Road Network and Large Local Majors programme, and the Department for Transport (DfT) has agreed to continuing work with us in developing a business case for the scheme.

Despite the ongoing challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project team is working at pace to develop the right long-term solution at the junction as quickly as possible.

Taskforce

A dedicated Army and Navy Taskforce, made up of local representatives and elected members of the Parish, City and County Councils, has been established to drive forward a longer-term solution for the Army and Navy junction and to lobby Government for funding.

The Taskforce is an advisory body, which, in partnership with Essex Highways, is assisting the decision-making process in considering the future of the Army and Navy junction and the immediate transport network.

Members meet on a regular basis to provide feedback and insight to help shape the options being developed and progressed.
The Taskforce has raised the Army and Navy scheme with the Secretary of State for Transport and a Department for Transport (DfT) representative attended the fourth meeting. The department’s priorities for the scheme were:

  1. Safeguarding the productivity of Chelmsford
  2. Managing congestion at peak times
  3. Incorporating the scheme into the wider transport vision for Chelmsford

Alongside these priorities, the DfT stressed the importance of sustainable transport infrastructure.

The taskforce also discussed their concerns over the increasing population of the city of Chelmsford and its impact on traffic congestion in the city centre. This gives the junction little resilience to cope with traffic incidents, while also affecting the productivity of businesses.

Engagement workshops

Community partners have played a vital role in helping shape the future of the Army and Navy junction and will continue to do so as the project develops.

In March 2019, representatives from various groups were invited to attend workshops about the Army and Navy junction. Three events were held - one for businesses, one for transport groups and one for local community groups.

The purpose of these events was to provide an early opportunity for a variety of key audiences to find out more about the background and objectives for the scheme, to discuss the principles and priorities that must be considered and share their knowledge and experiences of the junction.

The feedback captured from these sessions has been used to help inform the development of initial options for a long-term solution.

Congestion and delay at the junction were the most common points raised by those in attendance at the events and many of the other issues identified were also related to this.

In addition to congestion, there was a consensus that the flyover is an eyesore, but its removal could create more problems because network users rely on it and it is an important element of the city’s transport system.

Other common themes from the workshops included pollution, safety, housing development and its influence on traffic, the structural condition of the flyover, and cyclist and pedestrian access. Thank you to everyone who came and shared their thoughts and knowledge.

Further workshops with key partners were scheduled for March 2020 but were cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. A written update was sent to partners instead and can be found in the documents section at the bottom of the page.

Another set of workshops took place in January 2021 and allowed the project team to update partners on the latest progress with the project, confirm the options that have been taken forward and look ahead to planned public consultation in summer 2021.

Junction options

The engagement workshops with local business, transport and community groups in March 2019 resulted in several suggested solutions to the Army and Navy junction, which were subsequently discussed by the Army and Navy Taskforce.

Extensive work was carried out to sift a significant number of potential ideas to five initial options that were shared in a public information brochure in November 2019. An audio read-through of the brochure is also available at the bottom of this page.

The five initial options were:

  • Minor Road Layout Improvements
  • Two-way Flyover
  • Hamburger Roundabout
  • Enlarged Roundabout
  • Separate T-Junctions

As part of the option review process, the minor road layout improvements option was discarded in April 2020 because it would not go far enough in reducing congestion and delays at the junction or in helping to create the desired additional capacity for pedestrians, cyclists and buses.

In January 2021, the two-way flyover was also discounted. The flyover would be the worst option for city centre traffic and congestion, and would encourage more car journeys, rather than supporting the Park and Ride and encouraging walking and cycling, which goes against the aims of the Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy. 

Additional information about the three remaining options (hamburger roundabout, enlarged roundabout and separate T-junctions) and the latest option to be discounted (two-way flyover) can be found below.

This is a concept image and is for illustrative purposes only

Hamburger Roundabout

Description

Otherwise known as a throughabout, traffic would be able to travel straight between Essex Yeomanry Way and Parkway through the centre of the junction without using the roundabout. Traffic travelling to other arms of the junction would use the roundabout. Traffic signals would be used to manage traffic flows and priority.

Advantages

  • Shortest construction programme
  • Performs well against the project objectives
  • Significantly improves walking and cycling facilities
  • Provides eastbound and westbound bus lanes on Parkway
  • High journey time saving benefits for private vehicles
  • Reduces queueing on most approaches to the Army and Navy junction

Disadvantages

  • Limited opportunities to mitigate the impacts of the option on the landscape because of junction layout constraints
  • Higher impact on noise and air quality than the enlarged roundabout and separate T junctions

 


This is a concept image and is for illustrative purposes only

Separate T-Junctions

Description

Two new T-junctions created – one linking Essex Yeomanry Way and Chelmer Road, and the other linking Essex Yeomanry Way/Parkway and Van Diemans Road/Baddow Road. Traffic signals would be used to control traffic flow at the junctions.

Advantages

  • Good opportunity to mitigate the impacts of the option on the landscape
  • Performs well against the project objectives
  • Significantly improves walking and cycling facilities
  • Provides eastbound and westbound bus lanes on Parkway
  • Significantly reduces queueing on most approaches to the Army and Navy junction
  • High journey time saving benefits for private vehicles
  • Lower impact on noise and air quality than the hamburger roundabout junction

Disadvantages 

  • Increases queueing on Chelmer Road in them morning peak
  • Highest flood risk

 


This is a concept image and is for illustrative purposes only

Enlarged Roundabout

Description

The existing roundabout would be enlarged into the floodplain, creating a larger circulatory. The approach lanes on Parkway would also be widened. Traffic flows would be managed by traffic signals.

Advantages

  • Short construction programme
  • Good opportunity to mitigate the impacts of the option on the landscape
  • Performs well against the project objectives
  • Significantly improves walking and cycling facilities
  • Provides eastbound bus lane on Parkway
  • Least impact on noise and air quality

Disadvantages

  • Lowest journey time saving benefits for private vehicles
  • Low value for money
  • Unlikely to result in a major reduction in queueing traffic at the Army and Navy junction

 


Sustainable transport measures

A city-wide package of sustainable transport measures is being developed and will be combined with any junction improvements, forming a vital part of the Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package and the continued drive to encourage more people to walk, cycle or use the bus to get around the city.

Each option has already been upgraded to include significantly improved walking and cycling facilities at the junction, creating a coherent network to the city centre and including segregated cycle lanes where possible. All options would include a parallel crossing across Baddow Road and the conversion of the existing crossing on Parkway to a toucan crossing. Pedestrian/cyclist access would also be created through Meadgate Terrace, providing an improved route through to the junction from Great Baddow. Either hybrid cycle lanes or a two-way cycle route on one side of the road are proposed on Van Diemans Road.

Park and ride proposals are also continuing to be developed as a vital part of the project, with our latest work showing there is likely to be sufficient future demand for both expansion of the existing Sandon Park and Ride site, as well as a new park and ride at Widford.

It is hoped that expansion of the Sandon site will be possible ahead of the Army and Navy junction improvement works to help accommodate additional demand and minimise disruption during the construction period.

A preferred site for the proposed new Park and Ride site in Widford has yet to be identified, however more information about the proposed Park and Ride improvements will be available during the public consultation in the summer. 

Next steps

Despite the ongoing challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, work is continuing at pace to develop the right long-term solution at the junction as quickly as possible.

At this point, no decisions have been made about a final scheme and the project team is working hard to prepare the robust evidence needed to secure funding and support the business case for the project.

More detailed modelling and assessment of the remaining options has now been completed and a final shortlist of improvement options for the junction has been agreed.

A full public consultation on the refined shortlist of options is scheduled to take place this summer and will help in identifying a preferred option.

Based on current timescales, a planning application for the final scheme is expected to be approved in 2023, with construction estimated to start by summer 2024.

Steps have already been taken to reduce the programme where possible and every effort is being made to identify further opportunities. However, it is vital that we achieve the best possible solution and we must follow central government, legal and planning processes, all of which involve compiling very detailed evidence to support the case for the scheme.

If you would like to be kept informed about all the latest news on the project, please click the link in the bottom right of your screen and subscribe to our email newsletter.

Questions and Answers

Select a question to reveal/hide the answer:

Junction Options

Design standards have changed significantly since the previous Army and Navy flyover was first built in 1978. A modern standard two-way flyover would therefore be much bigger than the previous flyover and would take up considerably more space. Crucially, it would encourage more vehicle trips into the city centre, rather than supporting the Park and Ride, walking and cycling, which goes against our adopted Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy. The flyover would also have the largest noise impact and the longest and most disruptive construction programme, which would have the biggest impact on the local economy.

The remaining options – the separate T-junctions, hamburger roundabout and enlarged roundabout – provide the best opportunity to improve journeys for all transport users and are more in line with the vision set out in the Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy and with our Park and Ride Strategy. They would also be less visually intrusive and have less of an impact on noise, air quality and the landscape.

Ultimately we want the Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package to improve journeys for all transport users, including pedestrians, cyclists, bus passengers and drivers. While that does include reducing congestion and delays for vehicles, the project is a very difficult balancing act and we must be mindful about the impacts of the options on walking, cycling and Park and Ride usage, as well as the potential for causing increased congestion and delays elsewhere in the city centre, notably at the Odeon roundabout, by letting too much traffic through the junction. The Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy sets out a clear vision to transform transport in Chelmsford through a zonal approach, with a strong focus on walking, cycling and bus travel, particularly towards the city centre, and it is crucial that the Army and Navy project aligns with that vision and strategy.

A new one-way flyover was considered earlier in the project but was discounted because it would take up almost as much road space as a two-way flyover and have a similar cost but would provide fewer benefits. Notably, traffic travelling out of the city during the morning peak would need to merge lanes which would cause delays and a potential safety issue. This would also cause additional delays on other approaches to the junction such as Chelmer Road.

An underpass or tunnel for vehicles was discounted very early in the project. Given the location of the flood plain and the underground utilities at the junction, the option would be very complex and expensive to construct and would offer no additional benefits than the two-way flyover. Like the flyover, it would also encourage more vehicle trips into the city centre, rather than supporting the Park and Ride, walking and cycling, which goes against our adopted Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy.

Yes. We have assessed the different junction options based on a number of different scenarios. This includes using initial factors set by the Department for Transport based on the likely impacts of the pandemic on traffic and the economy. We will continue to update our assessment based on any updated guidance.

Sustainable transport improvements

Each junction option has been upgraded to include significantly improved walking and cycling facilities at the junction, creating a coherent network to the city centre and including segregated cycle lanes where possible.

The exact routes and facilities vary slightly from option to option, however the remaining options would all include a parallel crossing across Baddow Road and the conversion of the existing crossing on Parkway near the Army and Navy junction to a toucan crossing. Pedestrian/cyclist access would also be created through Meadgate Terrace, providing an improved route through to the junction from Great Baddow. Either hybrid cycle lanes or a two-way cycle route on the eastern side of the road are proposed on Van Diemans Road.

We believe the pedestrian and cycle route improvement measures proposed at the Army and Navy junction itself offer a better alternative on the basis they would be suitable all year round, benefit from better lighting conditions and provide a more direct route.

In order to encourage more people to walk and cycle in Chelmsford, we need to provide high quality facilities that are attractive and accessible to everyone. If we were to include a subway under the Army and Navy junction, the space required for the ramps would not allow us to provide the vastly improved ground level walking and cycling facilities that we are proposing for each option. We know that many people feel unsafe using subways, especially at night, and that ramps can be difficult for people to negotiate. By not building a subway, it allows us to provide the best quality ground level facilities that we can – fully segregated walking and cycling routes that are wide, attractive and available to all users.

Park and ride proposals are also continuing to be developed as a vital part of the project, with our latest work showing there is likely to be sufficient future demand for both expansion of the existing Sandon Park and Ride site, as well as a new park and ride in Widford.

It is hoped that expansion of the Sandon site will be possible ahead of the Army and Navy junction improvement works to help accommodate additional demand and minimise disruption during the construction period.

A preferred site for the proposed new Park and Ride site in Widford has yet to be identified.

More information about the proposed Park and Ride improvements will be available during the public consultation in the summer.

Although passenger transport usage has decreased during the pandemic, we fully expect passenger numbers to recover in time. In line with the Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy, bus travel will play a key role in reducing travel demand in the city and we must continue to encourage people to use sustainable alternatives to driving. A full bus can remove up to 40 cars from the road network and help reduce congestion.

General

Based on current timescales, construction of the junction layout improvement scheme is expected to start in summer 2024 and be completed early in 2026. This is subject to funding being secured and planning, legal and Government approval processes.

The duration of the construction programme for the final scheme will be dependent on which of the remaining options is progressed. It would therefore vary slightly from option to option, however, it would be expected to be about 18 months. In order to help minimise disruption, it is hoped that Sandon Park and Ride site could be expanded in advance of the works at the junction. We will also ensure that construction is carefully coordinated and sequenced to avoid clashing with any other major works in the area wherever possible.

We understand people want a solution at the Army and Navy junction as quickly as possible and we do as well, however we must also follow Department for Transport, legal and planning processes and ultimately ensure we achieve the right scheme for Chelmsford. Very detailed evidence is needed in order to make the case and secure Government funding for any major transport scheme. Steps have already been taken to reduce the project programme wherever possible and every effort is being made to identify further opportunities. We are also exploring whether any elements of the Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package, such as expansion of Sandon Park and Ride, can be started in advance of the junction layout improvement works.

Funding has yet to be secured but is being pursued from the Government's Major Road Network and Large Local Majors programme. The Chancellor announced in the 2020 Spring Budget that the project has been approved to proceed to the next stage of development for consideration for funding and the Department for Transport (DfT) has agreed to continuing work with us in developing a strategic outline business case for the scheme. The award of funding will be dependent on presenting a successful business case.

A number of measures were introduced following the closure and subsequent removal of the flyover to manage congestion at the junction while a long-term solution is developed. These included optimising the part-time signals at the roundabout, adding an additional bus to and from Sandon Park and Ride at peak times (prior to the COVID-19 outbreak) and minor road layout improvements. We also offered to support the city’s largest employers to work with them on travel planning and encouraging their staff to use more sustainable modes of travel.

We are continuing to promote travel alternatives, including walking and cycling, and introduced our Stop.Swap.GO! campaign to offer additional incentives and make it easier than ever to swap the car for more sustainable ways to travel, like walking, cycling or using the bus.

Work has also been completed on other schemes in the city as part of the £15million Chelmsford City Growth Package, aimed at prioritising sustainable transport schemes for walking, cycling and passenger transport, while plans are also being finalised for further walking and cycling route improvements in Chelmsford after we were awarded £7.4million from the Government's Active Travel Fund for schemes across the county.

Together with the Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package, the projects are a crucial part of the bigger picture in encouraging safer, greener and healthier ways of getting around and making Chelmsford a city of the future.

The Army and Navy junction is a complex five-arm roundabout. A solution is not easy and, despite several investigations over the years, there is no quick fix and funding has not been available to pursue long-term improvements at the junction. Following the adoption of the Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy and permanent closure of the flyover, we were in a much stronger position to develop a long-term and sustainable solution and to pursue Government funding.

No. While COVID-19 has undoubtedly had a significant impact on Essex County Council and will continue to do so in the future, we remain as committed as ever to progressing the scheme. The Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package represents an opportunity to transform travel in Chelmsford and create a lasting legacy at this vital gateway.

The community will continue to play a vital role in helping shape the future of the Army and Navy junction. We are pleased to have developed an expected final shortlist of options, subject to some final assessment, that will be shared at public consultation this summer and look forward to hearing people’s views.

We are committed to keeping people informed as the project develops and shared our initial options for the junction with the public in November 2019. We have also hosted workshops for partners, including community groups, businesses and transport groups. In addition, updates have regularly been shared with the public via the project e-newsletter, media and other channels.

This webpage is updated regularly with the latest news on the project. You can also subscribe to our Army and Navy email newsletter.

Planning and background

The Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy outlines a strategy for Chelmsford’s future transport network to make all modes of transport attractive and give people real choice in the way they travel, helping to keep the city moving, protect the environment and support further growth. It sets the following vision for Chelmsford to 2036: “For Chelmsford's transport system to become 'best in class’, rivalling similar cities across the UK, offering enhanced connectivity and access to opportunities for residents, visitors and businesses to support the sustainable economic growth of the city.” The strategy focuses on the type of journey (short, medium and long distance) and is achieved through a zonal approach, with greater emphasis on more sustainable modes towards the centre of the city. In order to achieve the vision and objectives, the approach is based on applying different types of schemes to different zones to address the transportation issues facing Chelmsford both now and in the future.

More information is available on the Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy page.

Yes, we have taken into account all planned growth detailed in Chelmsford City Council’s new Local Plan, including the proposed Chelmer Waterside and East of Great Baddow developments.

The decision to allow the construction of the food store was made by Chelmsford City Council as the local planning authority. We were, however, consulted as the highways authority and stipulated that Aldi needed to provide land for the dedicated left slip road between Parkway and Chelmer Road, which was constructed in 2016 – well in advance of the store.

The new Aldi store has been factored into traffic modelling for the potential options for the Army and Navy junction.

The Chelmer Viaduct scheme was a Highways England project to replace and upgrade the previous 1930s bridge. The Army and Navy junction is Essex County Council’s responsibility and improvements to the junction would have been outside of the scope of the Chelmer Viaduct project. In addition, funding was not available and options for a long-term solution had yet to be explored.

A dedicated left slip road from Chelmer Road to Essex Yeomanry Way is proposed as part of all three of the remaining options for the Army and Navy junction.

Flyover closure and removal

The flyover was closed permanently on 16 September 2019 on safety grounds following the recommendation of a detailed engineering report, which revealed defects within the concrete foundations.

The flyover had previously been closed in September 2018 following movement of supporting columns caused by record high temperatures that summer. Repairs were carried out and it was reopened in October 2018, however in July 2019 similar defects were identified following more high temperatures and the flyover was again closed.

Expert engineers examined the structure and recommended that it was closed permanently.

Repairs carried out to the flyover before it reopened in October 2018 were not able to address the root cause of the movement of the structure and any further repairs would only have provided another short-term solution to the problem.

Although it is not possible to exactly predict travel behaviours post COVID-19, there is still growth planned in and around Chelmsford that means we expect the Army and Navy junction to continue to be a key gateway into and out of the city. We have used the DfT’s latest guidance on post COVID-19 transport modelling to assess the need for intervention and we believe that improvements to the junction are still required. The Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package represents an opportunity to create a lasting legacy at the junction, providing greater options for people to travel and encouraging safer, greener and healthier ways of getting around the city.

Discounted Options

Two-way Flyover

This is a concept image and is for illustrative purposes only

Description

A new two-way flyover allowing a significant amount of traffic to travel to and from Parkway and Essex Yeomanry Way in both directions.

Advantages

  • Largest reduction in queues on Essex Yeomanry Way
  • Highest journey time benefits for private vehicles
  • Performs well in terms of wider government objectives and economic growth
  • Improves provision for walking and cycling
  • Lower flood risk than the Hamburger or Separate T-Junctions options

Disadvantages 

  • Longest and most impactful construction programme, which is likely to be very detrimental to the local economy
  • Does not align well with Chelmsford Future Network Transport Strategy
  • Least compatible with Essex County Council's Park and Ride Strategy
  • Most damaging impact on the landscape and least opportunity to mitigate that impact
  • No eastbound bus lane possible on Parkway (between Odeon and Army and Navy junction)
  • Highest air quality and noise impacts 
  • More expensive to maintain and greater cost risk than the other options 

 

Removal of the flyover

The Army and Navy flyover was a feature of the Chelmsford skyline for more than 40 years and its removal was a crucial step in a new era for transport in the city.

The flyover was the subject of a number of closures during summer 2018 after movement of a supporting column following record high temperatures. Having been safely reopened, it was closed again in July 2019 after similar defects were identified.

On 16 September 2019, it was confirmed that the flyover would be closed permanently on safety grounds following the recommendation of a detailed engineering report, which revealed new defects within the concrete foundations.

The flyover was successfully removed last year. The project started in February 2020 and the steel and concrete structure was taken down section by section before being transported away for dismantling and recycling.

Works to remove the flyover itself were completed in mid-March 2020, with follow-on activity to close off the crossover areas and make the site safe finished in April 2020.

A video of the historic project has since been added to the Essex Record Office digital archive.

Measures have been put in place to help keep traffic moving following the flyover closure while a long-term solution for the junction is developed.

With Chelmsford continuing to grow, other roads in the city centre already near capacity and a lack of space, people are also being encouraged to think differently about how they travel, particularly for shorter journeys which are currently made by car.

Our Stop.Swap.GO! campaign is making getting around Essex by bus, bike or on foot easier and more rewarding than ever before.

For more information, visit the Stop.Swap.GO! website.

Key facts about the junction

  • The Army and Navy junction is already operating significantly over capacity during the AM and PM peak times
  • 72 buses an hour use the Army and Navy in the AM peak
  • Each day, up to 70,000 vehicles use the junction (pre-COVID but post-flyover removal). About 10,000 vehicles a day used the flyover prior to its closure
  • A significant number of journeys to work in Chelmsford are made by private vehicle but are less than 5km in length
  • If everyone in Chelmsford were to switch just two of their journeys to work (including to the train station) each week to sustainable modes, this would remove 165,000 trips from the network

Vision and strategy 

The scheme to look at long-term improvements to the Army and Navy junction is just one of the projects looking to deliver improvements across all types of transport in Chelmsford. A package of smaller scale, short-term improvements will also help to alleviate the current issues felt on the road network and help encourage safer, greener and healthier travel.

They are detailed at the links below:

The vision for Chelmsford to 2036

“For Chelmsford's transport system to become 'best in class' rivalling similar cities across the UK offering enhanced connectivity, and access to opportunities for residents, visitors and businesses to support the sustainable economic growth of the city.”

Below are our strategies

Bringing a zonal approach to achieving Chelmsford’s transport objectives.

  • Outer – Park & ride, rail, the strategic road network
  • Mid – Buses & cycling
  • Inner – Walking, public realm

Other local strategies

Public Information Brochure

Audio read-through (narrated by Chelmsford Talking Newspaper) - 32MB