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Transporting Bedford 2020

Update December 2018 & information leaflet 

Throughout 2018 work has continued to move all elements of the Transporting Bedford 2020 project towards delivery on the ground. Design works has been completed on the first pinch point scheme for the Manton Lane area, design work for the scheme at Britannia Road is following closely behind and is due to be completed early in 2019. Works at both sites are due to start on site in late Spring 2019. Initial design work for the public realm works has been completed and we anticipate consulting on these proposals in the Spring. Work on the ‘technology’ theme has also moved forward and a contract for a new Urban Traffic Control system has recently been awarded by the Council.

An information leaflet giving general updates on the project can be seen here leaflet here


Mayor Dave Hodgson has announced ‘Transporting Bedford 2020’ an £18 million investment to tackle traffic congestion across our town centre.

Major works will take place at key points in the Bedford road network to reduce congestion including

  • the creation of a ‘Smart Corridor’ on Ampthill Road;
  • the signalisation of Shakespeare Road/Ashburnham Road junction; and
  • increased capacity round the Hospital with modifications to the Ampthill Road/Britannia Road/Kempston Road junctions.

A number of other traffic signalled junctions will be modernised and the towns urban traffic management and control system - which controls all the traffic lights across the town - will receive a major overhaul.

We will also carry out major refurbishment works in the heart of our town centre with traffic reduced to one lane on the High Street, creating more space for shoppers. Alongside improvements on St Pauls Square, this will give a significant boost to our thriving town centre.

All road users will benefit, including pedestrians and cyclists. Additional pedestrian and cycling bridges at Cow Bridge junction will make it easier and safer for pedestrians and cyclists to use this route, while increasing capacity for cars and other vehicles and so reducing congestion.

The announcement follows confirmation that the Council’s bid for Government funding was successful, after winning the support of the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership.

Understanding how traffic moves in and around Bedford town centre is critical to being able to improve the situation for all road users. To help inform decision making and take advantage of funding opportunities, the Council commissioned an in depth study of traffic in the town centre in 2014. This included a survey of traffic and car park use, and also the development of a traffic model which helps to test options for new or reassigned roads.

The report sets out traffic movements for a typical day, and also how long typical journeys take on certain routes at different times of the day. Some basic assumptions and agreed objectives are included, and a set of initial options has been set out.

The Bedford Town Centre Strategy study provided us with a baseline to make a bid to the Department for Transport for Local Growth Funding (Round 2). The allocation of £11M was approved by Government for the Bedford Town Centre Regeneration scheme at which the centre was an additional river crossing.  These funds were retained by DfT. 

Subsequently the scope of the scheme (which primarily focused on a new river crossing at Batts Ford bridge) has been deemed unaffordable and alternative ways of delivering the same economic outcomes have been sought. 

In 2016, Bedford BC was successful in bidding for Local Growth Funding (round 3) funds, securing  £4.5M of funds for the Southern Gateway project which is technology and junction improvements along the Ampthill Road. 

The Borough has now reviewed the totality of the funding and has developed a business case for a combined project worth £18.4M with three main objectives to:

  • Enhance the permeability of the core town centre, creating better connections between the retail quarter, the cultural quarter, and the Great River Ouse 
  • Enhance the management of traffic movements into and across the town to improve journey time reliability 
  • To significantly improve the Urban Traffic Management Control Technology provision across the core urban area by introducing smart technology that informs travel behaviour and reacts to transport conditions, and provides travellers with real-time information about traffic and travel conditions to allow them to make informed decisions about travel behaviour

The intention is to deliver a range of public realm, junction improvement and SMART traffic control and traffic signal technology on key routes and junctions and within the town centre between spring 2018 and 2021. The remaining funds are from the Borough’s own contribution.

South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP)

The total funding package is being administered through the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP). To be compliant with the SEMLEP  Local Assurance Framework, the revised project and funds need to be subject to the due diligence process,  as approved by DfT for projects of the size.

The business case for the scheme

The business case for the combined ‘Transporting Bedford 2020’ project was submitted to SEMLEP for appraisal in October 2017 Due diligence was carried out by SEMLEP and revisions to the business case were made over the spring of 2018.

The final business case as submitted to the SEMLEP Board in July 2018 can be seen here Appendix document (PDF)

Work will now start on gathering views to shape the final design of the various elements of the work and this webpage will be updated with more details of consultation and the programme of works over the coming months.

Information leaflet December 2017

The first of our information leaflets and E Newsletters outlining the Transporting Bedford 2020 scheme was published in December 2017. You can see a copy of the leaflet here (PDF). The next information leaflet is scheduled for delivery in Sept/Oct 2018.

Theme 1: Town Centre Public Realm Scheme

Redevelopment of our town centre and High Street is also a key priority to help boost our local economy. We will carry out major refurbishment works in the heart of our town centre with traffic reduced to one lane on the High Street, creating more space for shoppers. Alongside improvements on St. Paul’s Square, this will give a significant boost to our thriving town centre

This element of work will build upon and compliment smaller scale public realm works already completed and / or planned in areas, such as the Riverside Bedford development.

Ideas that are being looked at include the following :

  • High Street decluttering: Removal of all unnecessary guardrail, signals and lines to reduce vehicle prominence and create an environment where all transport modes feel welcome
  • High Street repaving and resurfacing: Introduction of a cohesive materials palette to provide a visual uplift to the town and encourage walking and wider exploration. This includes both carriageway and footway surfaces, to ensure an improvement to visual amenity, the setting of heritage assets, and the introduction of features that will provide greater pedestrian priority
  • High Street pavement widening to accommodate and encourage increased footfall and also café spill out in some locations: To help reduce vehicle speeds and provide greater control over servicing, the High Street carriageway will be narrowed to accommodate wider pavements and spill-out spaces for businesses
  • High Street and St Paul’s Square introduction of high quality street furniture (including seating) and soft landscape, including trees: Introduction of a consistent street furniture palette to reduce visual clutter. This would be complemented by a soft landscape scheme designed with full consideration of CCTV requirements
  • St Paul’s Square repaving and resurfacing: Carriageways will be treated with paviours to help reduce traffic speeds and reduce the visual prominence of vehicle routes
  • St Paul’s Square pavement widening: There are opportunities as part of wider traffic management initiatives to widen pavements on each side of the Square
  • Rearrangement of junction layout of Cauldwell Street/St. Marys Street/St. John’s Street: to enhance the flow of traffic from Cauldwell Street into St John’s Street and tie-in with reduced carriageway width over the Town Bridge.

Theme 2: Reducing Congestion (Pinch-Point Schemes)

Key areas have been identified for highway mitigation measures to facilitate improvements to the operation of the highway network and complement both the proposed changes within the town centre and the package of technology measures.

A6 Northern Gateway

  • Signalisation of Clapham Road/Manton Lane/Shakespeare Road
  • Enhancement to the operation of the Paula Radcliffe Way/Great Ouse Way roundabout
  • Enhancement to the operation of the Manton Lane/Brickhill Drive Junction
  • Reviewing entrance arrangements at the Bedford modern School
  • Refurbishing the signals at Manton lane / Brickhill Drive junction
  • A drawing showing the initial design of the changes planned for the Manton lane area can be seen here (PDF). This design is currently being tested to determine the effect on journey times and network capacity before we consult again on the plans.

Bromham Road Eastern Gateway

  • Realignment and signalisation of Bromham Road/Shakespeare Road/Ashburnham Road double mini roundabout

Around Hospital

  • Additional lane on northbound approach to Britannia Road/Cauldwell Street/Kempston Road junction
  • Rearrangement of junction layout of Britannia Road/Ampthill Road

Ampthill Road Southern Gateway

Theme 3: Urban Traffic Management Control and Technology Measures

A number of other traffic signal junctions will be upgraded with the latest technology of traffic signal controllers and equipment so that the junctions operate more efficiently.

Techniques and equipment for traffic management and control have evolved significantly over the last few years. Updating our traffic signal hardware and software will provide us with significant improvements in reducing congestion improving journey time for all road users.

The key features of the theme, which are also called SMART technology are

  • Updating our Urban Traffic Management Control (UTMC) system. This is the hardware and software systems that control the traffic lights in the town.
  • Introducing more Remote Monitoring Systems – so that traffic signals detect their own faults meaning that faulty equipment can be repaired quickly.
  • Improving CCTV systems to identify problems and allow for Journey Time Management
  • Traffic Signal Upgrades at a number of locations
  • Better variable message signs Signing, Information and Publicity Systems
  • Extended coverage of ANPR cameras for enforcement of Bus Lanes
  • Introducing better vehicle detection at key locations so that our traffic management systems can respond better to demand.  Using ‘cooperative data’ – which is transferring data to and from vehicles from roadside equipment - to help manage traffic. Using technology to capture all sorts of data on journeys, speeds, air pollution etc that can help our traffic signals run more efficiently. This data can also be fed back to in vehicle sat nav and information systems and as more and more vehicles use this sort of technology will help improve journeys for us all. 

Equality Analysis

The Equality analysis for the project can be seen here 

What happens next?

Over the Winter of 2017 and the Spring of 2018 we will be carrying out more traffic surveys and commencing detailed design of the pinch point improvement works. Construction work is anticipated to start during the summer of 2018 and continue through to 2021.

Work on the public realm schemes for High Street and St Pauls will start in Spring 2020.

Find out more and have your say

For more information or to make any comments you can email the project team directly at email:

Or write to us at :

Transporting Bedford 2020
Borough Hall
Bedford MK42 9AP

Or you can submit comments online

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