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Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package, Chelmsford

Latest News - 07 December 2020: Transformational Army and Navy Sustainable Transport Package to encourage safer, greener and healthier travel in Chelmsford

A final shortlist of options for the Army and Navy junction is set to be confirmed early next year as the drive continues to transform the way people travel in Chelmsford.

Essex County Council is looking to provide a long-term solution at the junction that not only creates an effective and attractive gateway to the city, but also minimises any environmental impact and provides people with safer, greener and healthier alternatives to travelling by car, in line with the vision outlined in the Chelmsford Future Transport Network Strategy.

The Army and Navy Taskforce, which is overseeing the development of the project, were updated on the latest progress last Friday (4 December) and told that a decision of a final shortlist of options is expected to be made in early 2021.

Work is continuing to assess and refine four options for the junction - a hamburger roundabout, enlarged roundabout, two-way flyover and separate T-junctions.

Each option has been upgraded to include significantly improved walking and cycling facilities at the junction, while proposals are also being developed for the expansion of Sandon Park and Ride and a potential new park and ride site in Widford. The sustainable transport improvement measures are a crucial aspect of the project and part of a continued drive to encourage more people to walk, cycle or use the bus to get around the city.

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “With Chelmsford continuing to grow and roads in the city centre at or nearing capacity, encouraging people to think differently about how they travel, particularly for shorter journeys is vital. This will form an essential part of the solution at the Army and Navy and other key gateways into Chelmsford.  

“We are determined to ensure the final scheme does not simply reduce congestion and delays in the shorter term but creates a lasting and sustainable legacy for years to come.

“I want to reassure people that despite the continued challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, our hard work is continuing and we are busy compiling the robust evidence needed to secure Government funding.

“We understand people want a solution at the Army and Navy junction as quickly as possible, however we must also follow Department for Transport processes and ultimately ensure we achieve the right scheme for Chelmsford.

“We expect to be in a position to confirm the final shortlist of options early next year and to consult with the public on those options around June.”

Vicky Ford, MP for Chelmsford, added: “I know the people of Chelmsford want to see a new and improved junction at the Army and Navy as soon as possible , but it is also important that we get the best long term solution.

“It is good news that more detailed work is being done by expert engineers to model the likely impacts of each of the possible junction designs before options are narrowed down further.

“I will continue to press for work to be done as swiftly as possible and for the public to be fully consulted.”

Construction of the final scheme is currently expected to start in winter 2023/24 and be completed in winter 2025/26, but is subject to funding, planning and other processes.

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 70,000 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 2020 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. 

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.

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.

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

A video of the historic project has 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.

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

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 their 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 is planned for later this year (2020).

Remaining 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

A city-wide package of sustainable transport measures is also being developed and will be combined with each of the 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 four remaining options can be found in the sections below.

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.

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

  • Does not have the landscape impact of a large vehicular flyover 
  • Promotes public transport use through improved bus priority and enhanced pedestrian/cyclist routes 
  • Relatively low build and maintenance costs 
  • Would include bus lanes on either side of Parkway while maintaining two lanes for general traffic in each direction

Disadvantages

  • Does not address delays at the junction as well as other options 
  • Potential to cause congestion and delay on other parts of the city’s road network 
  • Greater impact on floodplain than some options

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

  • Increase in capacity at the Army and Navy junction 
  • Likely to result in reduced queuing on all arms of the junction compared with existing layout 
  • Does not have the landscape impact of a large vehicular flyover 
  • Promotes public transport use through improved bus priority and enhanced pedestrian/cyclist routes 
  • Relatively low build and maintenance costs 
  • Would include bus lanes on either side of Parkway while maintaining two lanes for general traffic in each direction 
  • Would work well with ground level pedestrian/cycle crossings, reducing cost and construction timescales 

Disadvantages

  • Would require some land from the floodplain for left-turn-only lane from Chelmer Road to Essex Yeomanry Way 
  • Queuing on Essex Yeomanry Way likely to be longer than with two-way flyover (although this would help to reduce the impact of traffic in the city centre) 

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

  • Increase in capacity at the Army and Navy junction 
  • Likely to result in reduced queuing on Essex Yeomanry Way during morning peak period 

Disadvantages 

  • Likely to result in more congestion in central Chelmsford than other options following planned growth in Chelmsford 
  • No bus lane possible on Parkway (westbound)
  • Significant visual impact due to the necessary size of the structure to comply with modern standards 
  • Likely to be significantly more expensive than other options 
  • Would require more maintenance than other options 
  • Fewer opportunities to provide for sustainable transport modes at the junction

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

  • Gives greater priority to strategic traffic movements between Essex Yeomanry Way and Parkway than most other options 
  • Promotes public transport use through improved bus priority and enhanced pedestrian/cyclist routes 
  • Could open surrounding land for public realm improvements 
  • Lower maintenance costs than the flyover 
  • Does not have the landscape impact of a large vehicular flyover 
  • Would include bus lanes on either side of Parkway while maintaining two lanes for general traffic in each direction 
  • Would work well with ground level pedestrian/cycle crossings, reducing cost and construction timescales 

Disadvantages 

  • Significant impact on floodplain, but could be mitigated by providing replacement land in area of removed carriageway 
  • Potential to cause congestion and delay on other parts of the city’s road network as a result of re-prioritisation of approach arms

Next steps

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

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.

More detailed modelling and assessment of the remaining 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 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 70,000 vehicles use the junction (pre-COVID). 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 

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