Plans to improve the Fairglen Interchange are part of a £233million investment in highways, infrastructure and public transport by Essex County Council over the next 30 years.

Tens of thousands of motorists use the A127/A130 Fairglen Interchange daily linking major towns and areas including Basildon, Canvey Island, Chelmsford, Southend and Thurrock.

Results of a consultation into the proposed changes have yet to be published but short and long-term schemes to safeguard and provide capacity to this junction until 2045 are planned.

Short term options include a new road linking the A130 and A1245. The long-term scheme would see an underpass bypassing the Rayleigh Spur roundabout from the A130 towards the A13 and Canvey.

It is the most ambitious of road schemes to be proposed in south Essex and the most costly.

Lane widening schemes on the A127 at Progress Road in 2010/11, Kent Elms which began in 2016 and those proposed at the Bell Junction funded with a mixture of council and government funding have cost £16.4million.

Major improvements to the Tesco roundabout in in 2014/15 and the Cuckoo Corner roundabout completed in 2011 cost £4.7million and £5.26million respectively.

The costly improvement schemes are in response to a growing population.

It is estimated that more than 62,000 jobs will be created in South Essex by 2037, and more than 3,400 new homes per year will be needed to accommodate this new workforce.

The ever-growing operation at Southend Airport will also place a greater burden on the A127.

However, some say the road improvements are a short-term response to a huge problem and it may be time to take a more radical approach to growing numbers of vehicles on the roads.

David Burch, director of policy at Essex Chamber of Commerce said: “I think the money has been well spent as there have been problems with all the junctions put forward for improvement and the problems were causing congestions so in the short term they were the right thing and I’m sure we will see improvements although maybe not as much as people hoped for.

“In the long term we may have to look at a bypass outside the A127 on the borders of Southend and Rayleigh. The cost would be astronomical but if Southend is going to continue growth in business and economic activity as it has been the A127 won’t be able to cope.”

Mr Burch added: “We can encourage other means of transport like trains and car sharing but they won’t meet demands. We are probably going to need a raft of improvements across road and rail.”

Jon Fuller from South East Essex Friends of the Earth said: “The local group has been opposing expansion, widening and junction alterations on the A127 for decades and we feel we have been proven right.

“The fact is that local government has been spending millions on road layout changes for decades and still traffic continues to grow. Experience in those countries, regions and cities that decided to take a different approach has shown that there is only one way to tackle road congestion and pollution and that is to actively discourage car use.”

“Traffic expands to fill the available road space.”