Plans are being put into place to accelerate the disruptive Ipswich Road roadworks.

The scheme, which involves an initial several months of work underground by both BT and the water engineers to move utility pipework and cabling, was due to last for 15 months.

But given the levels of traffic congestion and disruption, Essex Highways bosses are hoping to speed up the scheme by increasing the number of workers on the site once the ‘overground’ roundabout and road widening works begins in the New Year.

County Hall chiefs say the site is complex, with several different contractors - including BT and other utilities - working underground and on different parts of the site at different times.

They say that is why people may not have seen workers on site as they have driven past.

READ MORE: Petition to speed up 'nightmare' Ipswich Road roadworks

In addition to the underground work, piling work to strengthen the wall at Waitrose and adjacent to the railway line must also be completed.

Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “We apologise for the delay and disruption to businesses, motorists and residents, but this work really is essential. Without it, we run the risk of gridlock in a few years’ time, with dire impacts for the local economy.

“This is complex work, with much of the current work going on underground as utilities and BT excavate, remove and divert cables and pipes.

"There are actually two large underground service chambers beneath the surface, where this work is going on.

“Once all this preliminary work is complete in the New Year, we can begin work on the new roundabouts and road layout. It is at this stage when we believe we can speed things up.

"Colchester is an old town with an old road network and with work this scale, delays are inevitable. But we will do all we can to speed things up once the initial work is complete, so that we can ensure the road layout at this important junction is fit for the future."