New Black Cat junction to smash roundabout bottleneck

Mayor Dave Hodgson at The Black Cat Roundabout
Mayor Dave Hodgson at The Black Cat Roundabout

A £1.5billion road building programme across the region will finally see the Black Cat Roundabout become a flyover junction crossing the A1.

Under a national road upgrade proposal announced by the Government on Monday, major routes across the East of England, including the A428, A1(M), A14 and M11, will see single carriage sections widened, new link roads built and improved roadside technology.

The A428 is one of 84 schemes within the strategy. The proposal is to dual the remaining single carriageway section between Caxton Gibbet, west of Cambridge, and the M1 at Milton Keynes, making Bedford the centre of an East-West Expressway.

The Government estimates the scheme will cost between £250m and £500m and is planned to start during the parliamentary term, 2015 to 2020.

The announcement was welcomed by North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt.

He said: “Following the failure to create a grade separated roundabout at Black Cat years ago, I am sure local residents will be delighted that this has finally been listed for a full upgrade.

“I, and other MPs, have been steadily working for this – the best news for the A1 this century.”

Bedford MP Richard Fuller added: “The creation of this road Expressway linking Bedford with Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford will bring long term benefits to our local economy and the promise of more local jobs.

“We must now press ahead for commitments to build the final stage in the complementary East West rail link from Bedford to Cambridge.”

Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson added: “This is fantastic news for motorists, for local businesses and for future growth and jobs in Bedford Borough.”

While a solid contract to carry out any of the improvements depends on the next Government implementing the proposals, and the stability of the economy, Mr Burt is confident it will happen.

He said: “It is unlikely the next Government will not go ahead with the plans.

“This is not a wish list but an actual proposal to improve Black Cat, work which should have been done years ago.

“The question is how future work will fit with the improvements currently underway.

“My next step is to speak to the department to ensure the improved junction is what residents and road users have been asking for.”

Other schemes include widening the A1(M, new roadside technology for the M11 and carrying out studies to further improve the A1(M) and the Oxford to Cambridge road.