THE opening of a third lane on the A130 has been delayed due to problems with crash barriers on the route.

CountyRoute, which runs the road on behalf of Essex County Council, has been carrying out work to create the extra lane in both directions between Howe Green and Rettendon.

But routine investigations revealed safety issues with crash barriers along the road.

A 50mph speed limit has been lifted along a stretch of the A130 near Wickford.

A temporary 50mph speed limit was put in place while emergency work was carried out to fortify the barriers.

The emergency work has now been completed and the speed restrictions have been lifted.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: "CountyRoute is now working on a long-term fix and the council has agreed it will not open the third lane until this work is complete.

"Currently ground investigations are taking place to confirm the extent of the works.

"CountyRoute is already in discussions with contractors so will be ready to carry out work once they have been agreed. Further updates will be made public following the completion of investigatory works and the remedial works programme agreed."

Eddie Johnson, county councillor responsible for highways and transportation said: “I make no apology for putting the safety of drivers ahead of the opening of this new stretch of road – safety must always be a priority.

“Now the speed limit has been lifted, the road will continue to function as a normal dual carriageway.

“We do not currently have a date for the opening of the third lane but will make this public as soon as it is known.”

Work to create a third lane was confirmed last year when 50,000 cars used the stretch of road in one day, triggering a clause in the contract agreed between the council and CountyRoute.

It comes 14 years after the northern section was first opened in January 2002 following a deal with CountyRoute, which was chosen by Essex County Council to construct and operate the road.