Major projects

Strategy

Major Projects

Status

Longer-Term Context, plus part of Bedfordshire’s Local Area Agreement

LTP Objectives

All

Supporting Strategies

MKSM Sub-Regional Strategy and East of England Plan

Main Partners

Highways Agency, adjacent LTPs, specific developers, EERA

Key Actions

Progress committed schemes and agree further priorities

Further Information

Contact us or the relevant delivery body

This section focuses on the development of principal physical infrastructure and major schemes, and responds to our ‘commitments’ and ‘preparing for growth’ priorities in particular. It also responds in part to public concerns over the adequacy of the transport infrastructure in dealing with future growth. As indicated in Chapter 1, delivering existing commitments will constitute a significant portion of activity over the coming five years. This section therefore provides an overview of all major projects planned to be delivered in and around Bedfordshire.

The longer-term transport projects to be implemented will be subject to review, for example through spending reviews by Government, policy and priority changes in the East of England Plan, and any changes made as a result of the creation of Regional Funding Allocations (see Chapter 2), and as each scheme is taken through its own legal procedures.  For this Local Transport Plan, Table 5 ‘Major transport schemes in Bedfordshire’, provides an overview of what major schemes (those costing over £5 million) we expect to be implemented and when.  The locations of road schemes and public transport schemes are shown in Figure 1 ‘Major transport schemes’.

In addition to the schemes listed in Table 5 ‘Major transport schemes in Bedfordshire’, rail enhancements delivered through the Strategic Rail Authority’s Midland Main Line Route Utilisation Strategy, upgrading the West Coast Main Line and East Coast Main Line, and proposed improvements at Milton Keynes Central Station will also impact on the opportunities to travel by rail locally.

Beyond the location and timing information given here, further details are included below, but only for those schemes where the LTP is itself the main means of delivery.  For further information on any of these projects please get in touch with us via the contact points given at the front of this document.

As Table 5 ‘Major transport schemes in Bedfordshire’ shows, what is striking is the sheer number of schemes that are now past the initial evaluation stages and in existing programmes.  With a total value of around £1 billion, and assuming these projects are delivered, they will have a significant impact on the area.  Key issues are:

  • The unprecedented level of construction activity expected during the LTP2 period;
  • The potential disruption to existing traffic and communities during construction;
  • The additional longer distance traffic passing through Bedfordshire;
  • The strategic road network schemes providing improved local travel conditions for road users;
  • The opportunities created to relieve communities of existing through traffic, particularly lorries; and
  • The further de-trunking implications, with significant transfers to us of existing trunk roads (particularly the existing A421 and the A5 through Dunstable).

We will continue to work with all relevant agencies to ensure we maximise the benefits and minimise the adverse impacts of all these schemes on local communities.

Whilst there is a high level of activity on major transport projects in Bedfordshire, the additional demand placed on transport systems as a result of the proposed levels of growth up to 2021 is likely to continue to place continuing capacity constraints on both roads and rail.  Evidence for this comes from the Highways Agency and the Strategic Rail Authority.

Findings from analysis of congestion problems based on the Highway's Agency's assessment of proposals from the draft East of England Plan and Regional transport Strategy are discussed in Chapter 3. This broadly indicates that despite a large investment programme, traffic congestion is expected to worsen. Even with an enhanced transport programme, capacity constraints are still likely to be present on sections of the strategic road network. One key benefit that will result from major improvement schemes on the strategic routes is the relief that these will deliver to the secondary road network as a result of traffic transferring to the improved strategic routes. However, with the concerns over the achievability of the regional strategy outlined in Chapter 2, this suggests an overall worsening of conditions on the strategic road network.

On rail schemes, the new franchise for the main services serving Bedfordshire does not include significant improvements in current service provision beyond overcoming existing overcrowding problems.  This is described in more detail in the 'Rail Strategy', but means that additional travel demand will only be able to be accommodated on the rail network to a limited degree. 

At the more local level there are uncertainties over the precise nature of the travel demands that will come with the new development in and around the area.  Although use of the ‘plan, monitor, manage’ approach described in Chapter 4 will continue, this will not be able to deliver anything more than small scale projects to help accommodate or manage demand.  Any substantial new development proposals that have not been addressed in current schemes will also add to future transport pressures.  This could become an important issue during the LTP period, particularly in the south of Bedfordshire where, for example, any definition of substantial urban extensions around Leighton Linslade would require significant new transport provision.

Of the schemes listed in Table 5 ‘Major transport schemes in Bedfordshire’ most relevant to this LTP are those planned for delivery or promotion during the life of this LTP using LTP resources (LTP shown as the lead promoter) and that are not already under construction, approved or significantly advanced through relevant legal procedures.  The status and approach on each of these nine schemes is discussed below.

Given the importance of all these schemes, a specific indicator has been developed to monitor progress.  This is described in Chapter 7.

Progress on major schemes in Bedfordshire during LTP2

For the schemes where the LTP is a major factor in their implementation, the following paragraphs summarise the current position and what progress is anticipated.

Ridgmont Bypass

The Ridgmont Bypass is primarily designed to intercept traffic on the A507 that is looking to access the M1 Motorway and provide an alternative route avoiding both Ridgmont and Husborne Crawley.

The scheme has completed all the statutory procedures, but design changes have resulted in cost increases.  An announcement on revised Government funding for the scheme was made in December 2005.  This now provides sufficient confidence to complete the design process and obtain contractor tenders to build the project.  The anticipated start of works for the scheme is Autumn 2006, with an anticipated opening date of Winter 2007/08.

Bedford Western Bypass

We are promoting the section of Bedford Western bypass between the A421 and A428 at Great Denham (south of Biddenham) as a local road scheme.  The section further north (linking the A428 and A6) is planned to be delivered by the housing developer for that area. The results of public workshops undertaken in the Bedford area indicate a general public support for the scheme (see Appendix B).

Whilst funding for the A421 to A428 section will come mainly from adjacent housing development, we have been exploring alternative funding mechanisms to deliver the scheme earlier.  Last year, working together with English Partnerships, we were successful in a bid to Government for some support from the Sustainable Communities Fund. This contribution, currently expected to be £5 million, and the existing LTP allocation of £2 million will help deliver both the bypass and the new houses.

English Partnerships will effectively fund the bypass using the Government grant initially, and recoup the costs as development takes place.  One further benefit of working with English Partnerships is that the above approach should lead to an eventual sum of money (up to £5 million) for us to reinvest in further improvements to benefit the Bedford area.

Picture 1 Archaeological dig on route of Bedford Western Bypass

Picture 1 Archaeological dig on route of Bedford Western Bypass


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Draft Side Road and Compulsory Purchase Orders were published in March 2005 and July 2005 respectively.  All statutory objections have been withdrawn and no Public Inquiry will be needed.  We are currently waiting for a decision from Government on these orders.

We have started some advance works on the scheme associated with ecology, archaeology and flooding.  We anticipate that the main scheme will start to be built in late 2006, opening to traffic in 2008.

In addition to the A421 to A428 section of Western Bypass, the A428 to A6 section forms part of the residential development proposals north of Bromham Road.  This development has planning consent (subject to completing legal agreements).  The delivery of this road is linked to progress with the associated housing, so timing will depend on how the rate at which housing is provided.  For guidance, we currently envisage that the road will open in around 2010.

 

Figure 1 Major transport schemes

Figure 1 Major transport schemes


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Table 5 Major transport schemes in Bedfordshire

Scheme Name

Lead

Anticipated Opening

Programmed Schemes

 

2006/7 -
2010/11

2011/12 -
2015/16

National Road Projects  

NR1 Great Barford Bypass TPIR

2006

NR2 M1 Widening J6a-J10 TPIN

2007

NR3 A421 Improvements (Bedford-M1) TPIR

2010

NR4 M1 Widening J10-J13 TPIN

2011

NR5 A5 Dunstable Northern Bypass A5-M1 TPIR

2011

Local Road Projects  

LR6 A6 Wixams Diversion (Elstow) DEV

2006/7

LR7 Linslade Western Bypass LTP

2006/7

LR8 A507 Ridgmont Bypass LTP

2007/8

LR9 Bedford Western Bypass A421-A428 DEV/LTP

2008/9

LR10 Luton East Corridor GAF

2008/9

LR11 Biggleswade Eastern Relief Road DEV

2008/9

LR12 Bedford Western Bypass A428-A6 DEV

2009/10

Public Transport Schemes  

PT13 Translink LTP

2009/10

PT14 Thameslink Programme NR

2013

Schemes Under Consideration  

LR15 A421 Improvements to MK LTP/DEV

PT16 East West Rail (Aylesbury/Oxford - Bedford) EWRC

PT17 Wixams Station (Elstow) DEV/GAF

LR18 Luton Northern Bypass (M1-A6 & A6-A505) LTP/DEV

LR19 Dunstable – Woodside Connection LTP/DEV

LR20 Bedford Town Centre (inc. River Bridge) LTP

PT21 Flitwick Station Improvements DEV

NR22 A1 Sandy/Beeston Bypass TPIR

LR23 Flitwick-Westoning Bypass LTP

PT24 Bedford Midland Road Station Improvement DEV

PT25 East West Rail (Bedford-Cambridge) EWRC

Table Key
  Lead Promoter      

TPIN

TPIR

DEV

LTP

GAF

NR

EWRC

Highways Agency - Targeted Programme of Improvements National Scheme

Highways Agency - Targeted Programme of Improvements Regional Scheme

Developer Led, some with public sector contributions

Local Transport Plan major scheme

Growth Area Fund supported scheme

National Rail committed scheme

East West Rail Consortium

     

A421 Improvements (M1 Junction 13 to Milton Keynes)

The Government’s London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study recommended that a number of road schemes should be implemented, including widening of the Motorway M1 as far north as Junction 13, improving the A421 east of the M1 to Bedford, and improving the A421 west of the M1 into Milton Keynes.  Since the A421 west of the M1 is a local road, the local authorities were invited to bring forward proposals for this section.

The Highways Agency is currently progressing the M1 widening and the A421 improvements M1 to Bedford schemes.  Following adoption of the Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy, Milton Keynes Council, the Milton Keynes Partnership and Bedfordshire have been investigating options for upgrading the A421 into Milton Keynes.

The results of two public exhibitions held in June 2005 have indicated an overwhelming preference for improving the existing route to dual carriageway standard and improving junctions, with 94% of respondents choosing this option over a new route to the south of the existing road.  Technical evaluation also indicates that widening the existing road is the preferred option and worthwhile.  Total costs are expected to be around £33 million.

We therefore intend to develop the scheme to the stage where a major scheme bid can be submitted to Government.  Both Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire, splitting the costs of the scheme between the two authorities, will make this submission in parallel with the LTP.  The intention is to match progress made by the Highways Agency on their A421 and M1 Junction 13 improvements scheme, leading to opening in around 2011.  This therefore will mean an initial submission being made in 2006, statutory procedures and tendering in 2007/2008 and a start of works in 2009.

East West Rail

The East West Rail Consortium has promoted the Oxford/Aylesbury to Bedford section of East West Rail for a number of years.  Following the preparation of a positive business case in 2003, the scheme was assessed as being undeliverable due to it being unaffordable.  Nevertheless, the importance of improving east west public transport links has since been recognised in the adopted Milton Keynes and South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy (see Chapter 2), and the lack of east-west public transport links was also noted on several occasions during our public involvement exercises.

The local, regional and rail authorities concluded studies funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Consortium in January 2006.  These examined the best way to improve east-west public transport links, either by road or rail and what the prospects for delivery were allied to housing and employment growth.  Conclusions from these studies are informing the way in which the Oxford/Aylesbury to Milton Keynes/Bedford section can be taken forward.

It is unlikely that any significant progress can be made on the section of East West Rail east of Bedford until greater certainty exists on the western section.

Wixams Station

The new Wixams settlement near Elstow is expected to start implementation in 2006, leading eventually to around 4500 new houses.  Part of the development is the creation of a new rail station to serve the new residents and businesses, as well as providing an alternative rail station for the area.

Whilst the principle of a new rail station is accepted and financial contributions towards it will be made by the developer, neither the detailed design, technical approvals nor funding are yet in place. We are currently seeking to ensure all the necessary funding is made available and will work with the developer and rail industry to help deliver the scheme during the period of this LTP.  If the project is shown not to be achievable, the development agreement includes a fall-back public transport strategy to provide road-based links to existing rail stations.

Bedford Town Centre

Significant effort is being placed on the regeneration of Bedford town centre, lead by the preparation of a new planning framework and attraction of commercial and cultural redevelopment projects.  This is needed to overcome current problems in the town and ensure that the town centre is capable of supporting the growth in people and jobs now envisaged.

The new planning framework is currently at draft stage and being refined through consultation.  Its development has been informed by a number of strands of technical work, including a comprehensive review of transport conditions, future demands and the identification of investment needed.  Although this work is at an early planning stage it is clear that the combination of existing problems (including the declaration of air quality management areas) and the future intensification of activity in the centre will require substantial investment in transport.

Picture 2 Bedford High Street

Picture 2 Bedford High Street


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The redevelopment process itself is expected to deliver a new bus station in the town centre, improvements to some existing highway junctions and improve the environment for walking, cycling and taxi/private hire operations. Even with this investment and other changes already planned, the recommendation from recent studies is that further major transport investment will be needed.

The focus for this thinking is that in order to create public transport and private transport networks that will be capable of providing the accessibility essential to support a vibrant town centre, a new river bridge close to the centre will be needed.

Resources to allow the technical work to proceed to test and develop this conclusion are being sought, allied to the growth and regeneration proposals.  As this work and proposals for redevelopment progress, it is envisaged that a major scheme bid will be made through the LTP system.

Allied to work on town centre regeneration, initial feasibility work will start early in the LTP period to evaluate the merits of providing an improved Bedford Midland Road main line rail station to improve access and interchange facilities.  This study will be carried out through a partnership between the local authorities, Renaissance Bedford and Network Rail.

Flitwick Station Improvements

As part of redevelopment proposals for the centre of Flitwick, consideration is being given to improving the car parking, interchange and access arrangements for the rail station.  The scale of works could be significant, with the overall aim of creating a central focal area for town activity, improved retailing and town centre residential properties.  Currently it is envisaged that the proposal would be self-funding.

Flitwick – Westoning Bypass

Flitwick and Westoning have been identified previously as communities where we would seek to provide bypasses, based on the role of the A5120 passing through the area.  Some feasibility work on route options was completed several years ago, associated with the early development of options for widening the M1 Motorway.  This evaluation concluded that feasible route options did exist, but none were progressed further.  Subsequent reviews of transport in the area concluded that no view on the justification of any bypass could be made until the Government’s strategic review of policy (the London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study) had been completed.

Now that this strategic review is complete and widening of the M1 Motorway is being advanced, the context for any local bypass is clearer.  With the intention of retaining the M1 Junction 12 connection to the A5120 included in the January 2006 M1 Preferred Route announcement, it is time to re-evaluate the case for a bypass.  Accordingly, during this LTP period further feasibility work will be commissioned to examine the case for a bypass of either or both settlements.  This will take account of both the up to date position in relation to development proposals in and around the area as well as the local and strategic context for transport.

The joint Bedfordshire and Luton LTP2

In the South of the County we expect major schemes to be promoted through our joint Local Transport Plan for Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis.  Those schemes most relevant to this LTP are:

  • Luton East Corridor Improvements;
  • Translink;
  • Luton Northern Bypass; and
  • Dunstable – Woodside Connection. 

Luton East Corridor

The East Luton Corridor scheme runs between the end of the M1 spur at Junction 10a and Luton Airport.  It will reduce congestion by completing the dualling of the existing section of Airport Way between Capability Green and the Airport, and improve access to employment in major development and regeneration sites in east Luton, including the disused Vauxhall works and Butterfield Green.

Translink

Translink provides a dedicated bus-way between Houghton Regis and Luton Airport, with improved bus circulation in the town centres of Luton and Dunstable.  It will increase public transport patronage and alleviate traffic congestion in the A505 corridor.

Luton Northern Bypass

While the Highways Agency is expected to implement the Dunstable Northern Bypass (M1-A5 Link), delivery of a Luton Northern Bypass (either the M1 to A6 section or together with the A6 to A505 section) is expected to depend on its relationship to proposals for development.

One of the reasons for progressing improvements to east-west routes in this area is to provide a strategic network that does not rely on routes through Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, or through towns and villages further north.

Recent feasibility work has been looking at route options and how these influence the role of the route.  This work will then inform the development of planning policy for the area and lead to a preferred route decision.  The outcome of this work will then help inform the most effective delivery arrangements.

Dunstable – Woodside Connection

Assuming the Highways Agency makes progress with Dunstable Northern Bypass, we would expect them to abandon their protected corridor for a Dunstable Eastern Bypass. One of the roles for the eastern bypass would have been to improve links between the strategic road network and key commercial areas in Dunstable.  If the Eastern Bypass scheme is abandoned by the Highways Agency, then in order to provide appropriate access routes to these employment areas and maximise the traffic relief to the town centre, it is anticipated that an alternative scheme (the Woodside Connection) would be promoted locally to link to the Northern Bypass.  Again, the route and role of this scheme will be influenced by future development as well as the form and location of the Northern Bypass.

In order to inform the planning process and help shape the precise form of the Dunstable Northern Bypass, we will proceed with the necessary feasibility studies at the earliest opportunity.  Depending on the conclusions of this work, it is anticipated that a major scheme will be promoted through the LTP process.  Implemention of this project would not be expected until after this LTP period.

 

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