Evening Echo
February 17, 2006

Priory Crescent congestion not the worst in borough

WHETHER the cost is £27million or £20.7million, it is still a lot of money for a road of questionable merit.

The issue of widening Priory Crescent has been dragging on for nearly ten years. It was actually spearheaded in 1999 during the time of the previous Lib Dem-Lab administration on Southend Council.

When the proposal was agreed by the council's integrated transport partnership made up of businesses, residents and green campaigners, it seemed no one realised the implications. The pressure started when plans were considered by the new Tory administration in 2000.

Initially, the road-widening scheme involved using a stretch of land on the edge of Priory Park. Protesters who were against taking away part of the park and removing trees started to attract support in the town and pressure grops started to appear.

Opposition parties on whose watch the scheme had originally been put forward then rapidly changed their minds and distanced themselves from the whole thing.

Through council meetings, public inquiries and months of waiting, the cost of the scheme has carried on spiralling and thetraffic somehow kept on moving.

While the Tories continue to believe the shceme is vital, it is a policy which has often been questioned.

The fact remains the road will still have to come out on to Prince Avenue which is woefully inadequate for the amount of traffic it carries.

Junctions controilled by traffic lights at Progress Road, Kent Elms Corner and the Bell are just unsuitable for a major road in the early years of the 21st century.

The Tesco roundabout also seems designed to keep traffic from flowing effectively. However, it would be a brave person who would advocate the necessary road widening and the resulting demolition of property.

Southend always seems to be convinced it has the worst traffic problems anywhere, but other towns seem to have many which are equally bad, if not worse.

Whatever finally happens with Priory Crescent, there will still be plenty of problems dealing with Southend traffic in the future.

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