A SMOOTHER flow of traffic and safer crossings are already benefitting drivers and pedestrians after the £5million overhaul of Southend’s Bell junction on the A127.

For years the junction has proved a headache for drivers, with long queues at rush-hour and countless accidents at the notorious bottleneck.

Now, residents and councillors are crossing their fingers that problems are a thing of the past.

The multi-million pound project, led by Southend Council, has seen a number of changes including a new dedicated left-turn lane onto Rochford Road and the removal of the footbridge.

Banning the right-turn onto Rochford Road has allowed additional “green light” time for motorists travelling straight through the junction in both directions.

An extension to the right-turn lane onto Hobleythick Lane has also been added as part of the overhaul, along with improved pedestrian safety features including new crossings on Rochford Road and Hobleythick Lane to replace the footbridge.

With the highways improvements now completed, Southend Council’s parks department will carry out landscaping works in the autumn once the new planting season begins.

Delighted Thorpe Bay resident John Budge says he has already noticed traffic build-up easing in the area.

He said: “We often travel along there, and the traffic when we went through there the other day is already flowing much better than it used to.

“Coming from London-way, the left turn lane into Rochford Road has really helped, and coming from Cuckoo Corner the no right turn into Rochford Road has really sped up the traffic.

“I do think it would’ve been better to reinstate the footbridge, but the new pedestrian system does seem to be working nicely.”

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Major improvements on A127 in Southend completed - here's what's been changed

Ron Woodley, councillor responsible for transport, hopes families and school children will benefit from the improved pedestrian facilities - with Prince Avenue Primary School and Nursery, Earls Hall Primary School and Southend High School for Boys all nearby.

He said: “The new layout stops that possible accident network happening, it allows the flow to go straight through and therefore should ease the traffic problems we had. We’re getting comments of how much better it is.

“The footbridge was out of date, it wasn’t compliant with the Disability Act. We’ve now got good crossing points, and of course we’ve taken down the footbridge which has really opened it all up.

“There are ground level footways, and it should be easier for buggies and families. You now haven’t got to carry children up steps. Once we get this landscaping this autumn that will be the finishing touches.

“All we’ve got to do now is hope people act sensibly and drive carefully.”

Roughly £4.3million of funding came from the Government’s Local Growth Fund, which the council successfully bid for, with £720,000 coming from the council’s capital budget.