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Army and Navy Taskforce, Chelmsford

Latest News - 22 April 2020: Historic flyover removal works completed, so what is next for the Army and Navy junction?

One of the five initial options to improve the Army and Navy junction has now officially been discarded after landmark works to remove the flyover were completed.

The flyover removal project started in February and the steel and concrete structure was taken down section by section before being transported away for dismantling and recycling. All 15 of the structure's spans were removed overnight to minimise traffic disruption, while the two ramps were broken up and removed on successive Sundays during the day to avoid excessive noise at night.

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

In the meantime, as part of the option review process, one of the five initial options for the junction has now been discounted. Essex County Council has decided that minor road layout improvements would not go far enough in reducing congestion and delays at the junction, or in helping to create the required capacity for sustainable transport modes.

The four remaining options undergoing further assessment are:

  • Hamburger Roundabout
  • Enlarged Roundabout 
  • Two-way Flyover 
  • Separate T-Junctions 

More detailed modelling, testing and refinement of the options will continue before a revised shortlist of potential solutions goes to full public consultation in 2021, which will help identify a preferred option.

With Chelmsford continuing to grow, other roads in the city centre already near capacity and a lack of space, the council is also looking at how it can encourage more people to think differently about how they travel, particularly for shorter journeys which are currently made by car. The Department for Transport has also stressed the importance of sustainable transport infrastructure in any solution.

A broader package of cycling, walking and bus improvement measures is therefore being developed to complement the scheme and will form a vital part of the project. This could include a new Park and Ride site and/or expansion of the existing Sandon Park and Ride, improved bus priority on Parkway, a new Chelmsford parking strategy and improved walking and cycling facilities at the junction itself.

Essex County Council has been boosted by the announcement in the Spring Budget that the project has been approved to proceed to the next stage of development for consideration for Government funding.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “The Army and Navy flyover was a feature of Chelmsford for more than 40 years and its removal is a hugely significant change to the city’s skyline that many people have welcomed.

“With the structure now removed, I want to reassure people that we are continuing to work incredibly hard on a long-term solution for this vital junction, despite the challenging circumstances currently facing everyone.

“Our project team are working from home, as per Government guidelines, and we are doing everything possible to keep the project on track.

“As a result of that ongoing work, we have now made the decision to drop the minor road layout improvements option as it simply isn’t ambitious enough. The Army and Navy is a crucial gateway to the city and we want a scheme that will create a lasting and sustainable legacy well into the future.

“We understand people want a solution as quickly as possible and steps are being taken to speed things up wherever we can, however we must also follow Government processes and ensure we achieve the right solution for Chelmsford.”

For more information about the Army and Navy project and the various options under consideration, please read our online public information brochure.

About the junction

The Army and Navy junction in Chelmsford is one of the key gateways into the city and is used by up to 60,000 vehicles a day.

The junction consists of a five-arm roundabout, which until recently had a tidal flyover that carried one-way traffic (cars only) to and from the A1060/A1114 over the roundabout. The direction of travel changed at different times of the day to support traffic flows.

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

As a result, it suffers from severe congestion and drivers regularly experience delays. This also affects buses using the junction and also results in it being a poor-quality environment for road users.

The issues have been compounded by the permanent closure of the Army and Navy flyover on safety grounds in September 2019.

Improvements to the junction are long overdue and options are being developed for a long-term solution.

The design, planning and development of any scheme is likely to take a number of years and will require funding to be secured.

The Chancellor announced in the Spring Budget that the project has 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 strategic outline business case for the scheme. 

Removal of the flyover

The Army and Navy 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.

Essex Highways has now removed the flyover. 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.

More information about the works to remove the flyover can be found on the Army and Navy flyover page

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

People are also encouraged to play their part by avoiding driving at peak periods or switching to other modes of transport such as bikes, buses or walking, where possible. 

More information about travel options in Essex, including car sharing, Park and Ride services, walking and cycling routes, and bus services, is available on the Getting Around page.

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 any improvements identified.

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 initial options being explored and developed.

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 are:

  1. Safeguarding the productivity of Chelmsford
  2. Managing congestion at peak times
  3. Considering the structural condition of the flyover
  4. 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 influencing the productivity of businesses and air quality.

Engagement workshops

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 their knowledge.

Further workshops with key partners were scheduled for March 2020, but 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. An additional set of workshops is planned for later this year (2020).

Initial 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 the five options that were shared with the public in November 2019.

Those options were: 

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

The options vary in their advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, environmental impact and potential to increase the capacity of the junction and reduce congestion and delay.

A city-wide package of sustainable transport measures is also being developed and will be combined with each of the initial options, forming a vital part of the solution.

As part of the option review process, the minor road layout improvements option was discarded in April 2020 as 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. 

Additional information about the initial options and the sifting process can be found in the public information brochure.  An audio read-through of the brochure is also available at the bottom of this page.

Next steps

At this point, no decisions have been made and the team is still assessing how the initial options could be optimised and combined with potential sustainable transport improvements.

More detailed modelling and testing of the initial options is continuing before a revised shortlist of potential solutions for the junction is agreed. A full public consultation on a refined shortlist of options will then follow and help in identifying a preferred option. This is expected to be in 2021.

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.

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

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 60,000 vehicles use the junction. Of those vehicles, about 10,000 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 

The scheme to look at long-term improvements to the Army and Navy flyover and 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 help to alleviate the current issues felt on the road network and help the city to keep moving forward.

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