In literally a matter of days, construction work will begin on the final phase of the Bedford western bypass.
This road has featured in local and national plans and strategies for more than 50 years, so the start of these works is not a moment too soon!
The road will be open in around 18 months, connecting the A4280 at Biddenham with the A6 at the Clapham roundabout. This final phase of the western bypass will mean a complete north-south link is available for the first time, easing congestion in and around Bedford for all road users and attracting new investment.
We have had to overcome numerous obstacles which had been blocking progress, and it took the launching of Compulsory Purchase Order proceedings to kickstart the process. The issues included a continuing dispute from the Highways Agency’s 2001 A6 Clapham bypass work and the ‘air rights’ over the railway line, but following extensive, successful negotiations all objections to our CPO were removed.
Meanwhile, the East West Rail line linking Bedford with Oxford and Reading will be open by 2019, and we continue to lobby for the line to continue on from Bedford to Cambridge.
We have also allocated £500,000 for work to commence on a major decongestion project for our town centre, including a new road bridge linking Kingsway and River Street. We have already seen the completion of a dualled A421 to both the M1 and A1, and earlier this month I attended the launch of the new A428/421 Alliance. This saw council leaders, MPs and others commit to working together towards improving the route between Bedford and Cambridge and beyond, which of course includes the notorious Black Cat roundabout.
So, while the start of the bypass works is something to celebrate, there is more to be done to make Bedford borough even better connected.