Bedford Borough Council accused of downplaying roadwork misery

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traffic jam

Bedford Borough Council has been accused of downplaying motorists’ misery as it’s revealed major roadworks will start on Britannia Road next month and last until spring next year.

While the council has acknowledged the impact of Bromham Road Bridge’s closure by Network Rail on the Manton Lane/Clapham Road ‘Transporting Bedford 2020’ works, Cllr Roger Rigby (Con) says the Council are ignoring its impact on other projects.

Read: Gridlock Bedford: Anger as major road projects all come at once

Upon hearing about the Britannia Road works, Cllr Rigby said: “The Borough Council are significantly understating both the short and medium term pain and further damage to Bedford’s already fragile town centre retailing.”

Britannia Road Transporting Bedford 2020 works
The Britannia Road works as detailed on Bedford Borough Council’s portal.

Britannia Road runs beside Bedford Hospital from Ampthill Road to Kempston Road.

Works are due to start there in July and won’t finish until April 2020, according to the Borough Council’s roadworks portal.

Bromham Road bridge closes this month and won’t open until almost a year later as part of Network Rail’s project to the electrify the Midland Mainline.

Read: Bromham Road bridge to close completely for almost a year

Gas mains works along Bedford Road in Kempston are due to finish in early July but any delays may also have an impact on these further plans.

At the committee meeting, Jon Shortland, the council’s chief officer for planning and highways, said: “There will be a period of short-term pain but at the end of it there will be a long term gain.”

Adding that some planned roadworks have had their start times put back in recognition of everything else that was happening.

While Cllr Rigby says he was grateful to Mr Shortland for taking the time to explain what is happening, he believes the council are not fully accepting of the wider impact of the Bromham Road bridge closure.

He believes that the Britannia Road works are potentially just as likely to suffer from the bridge closure as anywhere else.

“People will be driving around in a daze trying to work out how to get across town to work or back home again,” he said.

Mr Shortland said much of the council’s own roadworks were attempting to sort out the town’s long-term traffic pinch points.

Gathered Councillors were also told that when major roadworks take place “people find their own routes” and the council will be reacting to problems caused by that.

The Bedford Independent asked Bedford Borough Council how they were doing this but they were unable to respond by our deadline, promising to provide further details shortly.

Our reporters will be attending the Network Rail meeting about the Bromham Road closure tomorrow and will include the Council’s update in our report from there.

Read: Network Rail invite public to grill them over Bromham Road bridge closure

Additional reporting: David Tooley,
Local Democracy Reporter.