Essex is quite big. If you don't regularly go there, you might not notice. It doesn't have any cities and it's not famous for taking up a lot of space. But it does have an astonishing array of very big towns, and in between them it has an awful lot of countryside. It's with this in mind that, in recent years, Essex County Council has attempted to help people cover those distances more quickly.

The A120 is part of that strategy. It forms an east-west route across the middle of the county, and links Stansted Airport with Colchester, the port of Harwich and the vital M11 and A12. If you're not from the area you probably won't know it and you almost certainly wouldn't be aware that, in 2003, Essex County Council opened the first phase of their improvement works: 20 miles of brand new dual carriageway, on a completely new line, to replace the existing road between Stansted and Braintree.

There was no fanfare when it opened, but this is, in all but name, the first link of a brand new cross-country motorway: it covers a huge distance (in fact it goes most of the way to linking the M11 and A12 in one shot), has only a few grade-separated junctions miles and miles apart, and even has its own motorway-style rest area near Great Dunmow. This is big thinking for a local authority scheme. And it's a brilliantly fast, smooth ride.

When it opened in 2003 it was hoped that it would soon be extended east on a new line to the A12, and connected to an upgrade of the A130 from Chelmsford to Great Dunmow. Those have not, of course, happened; the first of those schemes was knocked back in a public inquiry and is effectively shelved while the second has never really got off the ground. It's a shame, because Essex really is a big place, and this sort of visionary thinking is a rare commodity.

Start
Bishop's Stortford
End
Braintree
Passes
Stansted Airport
Connects to
Length
20 miles

Exit list

Junction   Westbound               Eastbound  
M11 J8 London
Harlow
M11 (S) Link (M25 Link)
Bishop'
s Stortford
A120
Cambridge
M11 (N) Link
Services Birchanger Green






M11
(M25)

B1256
WEST
A120




M11
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 3 lanes 1 mile, 3 lanes
21.2 km Stansted Airport
Terminal
Mid & Short Stay Parking
Air Cargo
Airport

Stansted Airport
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
4.5 miles, 2 lanes 4.5 miles, 2 lanes
26.4 km Takeley
B1256
B1256 B1256 Thaxted
Great Dunmow
Takeley
B1256
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
Rest Area Rest Area Rest Area Rest Area
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2.5 miles, 2 lanes 2.5 miles, 2 lanes
30.9 km Great Dunmow
B184
B1008 B184 Great Dunmow
B184
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 2 lanes  
Felsted
B1417
Stebbing
B1256
B1417



B1256



LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes 8 miles, 2 lanes
42.2 km Chelmsford
A131
Rayne (B1256)
Braintree
A131


B1256


Chelmsford
A131
Braintree
LanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
45.8 km Witham
East Braintree Ind. Est.
Business Park
B1018
Braintree College
B1018



Braintree College
Witham
East Braintree Ind. Est.
Business Park
B1018
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
47.2 km N/A
A120
EAST
B1256

A131
(A1017)










Braintree
B1256
Sudbury
Halstead
A131
Haverhill (A1017)
Colchester
Coggeshall
A120
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Clive Jones for information on this page.