A consultation exploring the options for a new £99 million link road and a rapid transit system in Colchester has opened.

Four route options are set to be considered for a new link road connecting the A120 and A133 in Colchester.

Essex Highways has launched a consultation on plans for the road which is designed to alleviate congestion across the town centre whilst serving the proposed garden community on the Colchester/ Tendring border, which could have up to 9,000 homes.

Gazette: Colchester's road system if plans go aheadColchester's road system if plans go ahead

David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, said: “Colchester has seen rapid growth over the past decade, both in terms of meeting its housing needs but also its thriving economy.

“As this growth continues it is critical an infrastructureled approach is taken, helping manage traffic, working to better connect the town and reducing the reliance on the car through encouraging more sustainable means of travel.”

All four of the options are two lane, 50mph roads with “dumbbell” junctions connecting them to the A120, however, the roads lengths and junction locations vary.

Three of the routes travel from a new roundabout on the A133, which could be in one of two places, to the A120 near to Strawberry Grove in Elmstead.

The fourth is longer and would travel from one of the two A133 roundabouts to the A120 west of the road’s service station.

New entrances to the services and the nearby waste transfer station would be created.

The link road, for which £99 million funding has been secured, is dependent on the outcome of the joint garden communities section of Colchester, Braintree and Tendring councils’ Local Plans, which will be reinspected in January.

A new “sustainable transport base” will be created as part of plans to bring a rapid transit system to Colchester.

The facility, dubbed a Park and Choose site, will be located near Essex Unversity, either north east of the new A133/ A120 link road near where it meets the A120, or south east of the link road next to the A133.

The Park and Choose facility will be linked by the new rapid transit system to Colchester’s existing Park and Ride, off the A12 at junction 28.

Gazette: The proposed routes for the rapid transit systemThe proposed routes for the rapid transit system

From the Park and Ride, the rapid transit system will travel south via the A134 Northern Approach Road to Cowdray Avenue. There are three options for the next section of the route which Essex County Council wants the public’s opinion on.

One uses East Hill before crossing the East Gates level crossing towards Clingoe Hill.

The second travels from the High Street into Queen Street taking the A134 Magdalen Street before crossing the railway at Hythe.

The final option would take passengers down East Hill, on to Ipswich Road south and then via St Andrew’s Avenue. From Clingoe Hill the rapid transit system will continue either travelling via Essex University, the A133 or through the east of Colchester garden community.

Gazette: The rapid transit system on Clingoe HillThe rapid transit system on Clingoe Hill

It is likely the town centre part of the route will use the existing road as they are, with little suggestion more bus lanes or car bans will be introduced.

"Engineering solutions" could be used at Greenstead roundabout.

Mr Finch said: “People and businesses are best placed to tell us what does and doesn’t work in terms of the journeys they make, and their insight on the various options will allow our engineers and designers to evolve the plans.”

Preferred routes will be announced early next year.

Essex Highways is hosting six consultation events where more detail of the plans will be on show.

These take place:

  • Tuesday at Wivenhoe House, from 1pm to 8pm
  • November 15 at Greenstead Community Centre, from 1pm to 6pm
  • Thursday, November 21, at St John’s Church, from 1pm to 8pm
  •  Saturday, November 23, at Colchester Stadium, from 10am to 5pm
  • Monday, November 25, at Wivenhoe House, from 1pm to 8pm
  • Monday, December 9, at Colchester Stadium from 1pm to 8pm.

The consultation closes on December 16.

Visit essex.gov.uk/ link-road-and-rapid-transit for more information on the consultation.