Highways England is undertaking work to test ground conditions under the A12 in Essex in preparation for an improvement scheme on the route.
In total, Highways England will investigate 423 sites on the A12 – a 15-mile route that runs between Chelmsford and Marks Tey.
Under the new proposals, an extra lane will be added to the A12 in both directions.
This will make a marked difference to congestion, saving eight minutes on journeys, of which 83,000 are taken on this stretch of road each day.
The ground surveys that are taking place are important because they will help Highways England to develop proposals by giving engineers a clear picture of the soils, rock and groundwater beneath the broad area of the proposed new road.
It will therefore give vital direction on how to plan the designs to improve the existing A12.
Stephen Elderkin is the Project Director for the upgrade. He explained what the scheme hopes to achieve.
He said: “The upgraded A12 will improve capacity on this vital link between London and the East of England, while also improving safety and what is often a congested stretch of road. The complex programme of tests and surveys we’re undertaking will enable us to better understand the ground conditions, and help us build the road safely and in a way that protects the environment while keeping the costs down.
“The survey findings will help us develop our road designs, including junctions and structures. Instead, this preliminary work will help to give us the clearest possible picture of what will be involved in upgrading the road when we apply for planning consent in 2021, and help ensure our construction programme can get the new road open for 2028.”
A comprehensive schedule of tests are taking place for the first phase in more than 800 locations; this initial phase will carry on until the end of April, with further phases likely to continue into the summer.
News of this comes hot on the heels of confirmation of the opening date for the A14.