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Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package, Chelmsford

Latest News - 28 January 2021: Shortlist of junction improvement options confirmed as part of Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package

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.

Each option has been upgraded to include significantly improved walking and cycling facilities at the junction, while proposals are also continuing to be developed for the expansion of Sandon Park and Ride and a proposed new park and ride site in Widford. The sustainable transport improvement measures are a crucial aspect of the Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package and part of a continued drive to offer people greater choice in the way they travel in the city.

As a result of the latest option assessment analysis, the two-way flyover has now been discounted and the three remaining options – separate T-junctions, hamburger roundabout and enlarged roundabout – have been confirmed as those on the shortlist that is expected to go to public consultation later this year. However, this is subject to some final assessment. 

The two-way flyover has been discarded because it would:

  • be the worst option for city centre traffic and congestion
  • 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 
  • be much larger than the previous flyover to comply with the latest design standards and would be considerably more visually imposing
  • have the largest noise and air quality impacts
  • have the longest and most disruptive construction programme, which would have the most detrimental impact on the local economy
  • not accommodate potential future sustainable transport improvements as well as the other options.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “The Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package represents an opportunity to provide people with greater travel options and to encourage safer, greener and healthier ways of getting around Chelmsford, especially for shorter journeys where we want walking and cycling to be the natural choice.

“With an expansion of Sandon Park and Ride, a potential new Park and Ride site at Widford, pedestrian and cycle route improvements, and layout improvements at the Army and Navy junction all included as part of this project, the scheme will provide a long-term and sustainable solution that will help to make Chelmsford a city of the future.

“I am delighted that we have taken another significant step forward with the project by agreeing our expected shortlist of options and look forward to asking the public their views.

“By focussing on fewer options now, we can concentrate on those that could make a real difference and people can have a more valuable input at public consultation.

“The remaining options – the separate T-junctions, hamburger roundabout and enlarged roundabout – provide the best opportunity to improve journeys for all transport users and to create a lasting legacy at this vital gateway.”

Due to the various stages involved in securing funding for the project, construction of the final junction scheme is currently expected to start in summer 2024 and be completed in early 2026, subject to planning and other necessary processes.

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.

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
This is a concept image and is for illustrative purposes only

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

Click on the question to reveal/hide the answer:

Junction Options

1. Why has the two-way flyover option been discounted?
2. Why would the remaining junction options be a better solution for Chelmsford?
3. Why is encouraging more vehicle trips into the city centre not the aim of the project?
4. Was another tidal flyover considered? Why was it discounted? 
5. Was a vehicle underpass or tunnel considered? Why was it discounted? 
6. Has the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic been taken into account in assessing the options for the Army and Navy junction? 

Sustainable transport improvements

1. What pedestrian and cyclist improvements are planned?
2. Why is a new cycle route not proposed across the floodplain as part of the project?
3. Why don’t the options have a subway for pedestrians and cyclists, in addition to the ground level facilities?
4. What Park and Ride improvements are proposed?
5. Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the current usage of passenger transport, including Park and Ride services, why is so much priority being given to buses?

General

1. When will the final scheme at the Army and Navy junction be constructed?
2. How long will the final scheme take to build and what will be done to minimise disruption, particularly given the various other schemes expected to be constructed at a similar time, e.g. the Chelmsford North East Bypass and A12 improvements?
3. Why can the project not move quicker?
4. How is the project being funded?
5. Given the length of time before a long-term solution is provided at the junction, what has been done to reduce congestion and delays in the meantime?
6. Why did it take for the flyover to be closed before a solution at the junction was progressed?
7. Will the COVID-19 pandemic impact on the prioritisation of the project?
8. When will the public have an opportunity to have their say on the options?
9. How can I be kept informed about the project?

Planning and background

1. What is the vision for transport in Chelmsford?
2. Have proposed housing developments in the area been taken into consideration when assessing the options?
3. Given the issues at the Army and Navy junction, why was planning consent granted for the Aldi store?
4. Why were improvements not made to the Army and Navy junction when the new Chelmer Viaduct was constructed, in particular a slip road from Chelmer Road to Essex Yeomanry Way?

Flyover closure and removal

1. Why was the flyover closed?
2. Why couldn’t the flyover just be repaired?
3. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact people have adapted since the closure and removal of the flyover, are improvements still needed?

Discounted Options

Two-way Flyover

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 
This is a concept image and is for illustrative purposes only

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