Millions of pounds have been spent on improving the vital A127 in recent years and more projects are planned, but it is not yet clear difference the changes will make.

Long-suffering motorists have put up with chronic congestion at peaks times for years, followed by seemingly endless improvement programmes in a bid to alleviate the problems.

Essex County Council and Southend Council have overseen projects at Rayleigh Weir and the Nevendon junction in Wickford. Major plans are in the pipeline for the A127 / A130 Fairglen Interchange.

In Southend, the Tesco and Cuckoo Corner roundabouts were transformed and lanes widened at the Progress Road junction in Leigh.

Work is still ongoing at the Kent Elms road widening scheme which has suffered long delays and setbacks and more work is planned for the Bell Junction

While some schemes like Fairglen are long term projects, others like Kent Elms and Progress Road have been designed to provide short term relief for motorists and to prevent congested traffic damaging the environment.

However traffic flow data has revealed the amount of traffic is not rising as quickly as predicted.

In June 2012 there were 27,315 vehicles entering the A127 Southend bound at Progress Road between 7am and 7pm.

By June 2016 this had risen to 29,488.

London bound figures rose from 24,874 to 26,948.

Traffic entering and leaving the A127 from the Tesco roundabout has fallen.

In June 2012 there were 17,642 Southend bound and 19,278 London bound vehicles entering the A127 by this junction.

By 2016 these were 17,508 and 19,222 respectively, representing almost no change at all.

At Cuckoo Corner Southend bound traffic entering the junction during the same period reached 15,507 which rose in 2016 to 16,387.

The London bound direction saw a fall from 10,611 in 2012 to 10,227 in 2016.

It raises the question of whether it was worth all the work and cash for small changes.

It will become clearer once work at Kent Elms and the Bell are completed and traffic synchronised.

And for those who doubt it was money well spent numbers are expected to rise with the growth of the airport and business park.

Andrew Moring, councillor responsible for infrastructure, said: “The A127 is pivotal to the economic prosperity of Southend and the wider region, with thousands of commuters and visitors using the road daily to get in and out of our borough.

“As our economy and attraction as a place to live and visit has grown, we have worked closely with Essex County Council in recent years to make the case for national investment to create additional capacity and improve traffic flow through particular pinch points of the A127.”

Mr Moring added: “This considered strategy has paid off, as we have been successful in attracting over £25million of Government funding to complete a number of key highways improvements such as Progress Road and Tesco roundabout.

“Bidding for this funding is a competitive process, and had we not been successful this investment would have gone to other authorities. This national funding has paid for more than 80 per cent of the local projects completed, reducing the burden on our own local finances.

“London Southend Airport and Airport Business Park Southend are important to the prosperity of the area and we will continue to ensure that we make highway improvements where we can and within the land constraints we have, supported by the latest technology where possible.”