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Council formally marks start of its work to upgrade the remaining section of A421 into Milton Keynes

5 April 2019

Central Bedfordshire Council formally recognised the start of its project to upgrade a key section of the A421 into dual carriageway with a ground-breaking event on 15 March.

A remaining 3km of the road is being upgraded to better link Junction 13 of the M1 motorway in Central Bedfordshire with Milton Keynes. The stretch runs from the roundabouts by the junction up to the new Eagles Rest housing development and the Altitude Magna Park logistics and distribution site in Milton Keynes.

As the majority of this section falls into Central Bedfordshire, Central Bedfordshire Council is leading on the project but is working with Milton Keynes Council. Both councils are each contributing up to £3million. The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership is contributing £23.5million from the Local Growth Fund towards this £28.5million project. Key team members from both councils, from the contractors and from the funders, SEMLEP, attended the formal ground-breaking event.

The council started initial preparatory site work on the road last September, and has cleared the site, put in new fences, and relocated utility pipes and cables. This month they are starting the actual construction phase of the dual carriageway.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “This section of road is used by around 30,000 vehicles a day. The new dual carriageway will help ease congestion and take traffic away from local parishes, so increasing safety and benefiting local businesses and commuters. 

“Work on converting this last section of the A421 into dual carriageway has gone really well so far. Last month we put in a temporary bridge that carries utility company pipes and cables, so they are out of the ground. This means we’re now able to start the main construction of the dual carriage in earnest.”

The new A421 dual carriageway is expected to be finished by the end of 2020. Ahead of that, the widened carriageway will need two bridges to be extended: the Cranfield Road bridge, plus another footbridge towards Hulcote. 

There are no safe routes for pedestrians across the A421 currently, so the new bridge will greatly improve facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, who will benefit from four extended public rights of way. There will be a new cycleway and a 3-metre wide footway along the southern side of the carriageway, leading to the new bridge.

From 13 May 2019, the current Cranfield Road bridge will be closed for up to 12 months whilst the improvements are done. The council is working with its contractor to reduce this period if possible.

The A421 forms a key section of the strategic east-west corridor, and helps underpin the proposed future Oxford-Cambridge Expressway. The Expressway is part of the proposed infrastructure which will help to create opportunities for the wider area to become the UK’s Silicon Valley, delivering growth in science, technology and innovation. 

The upgraded A421 road will help improve access to planned developments in Central Bedfordshire, such as 5,000 homes proposed in new villages in the Marston Vale area (which is within Central Bedfordshire Council’s submitted Local Plan), as well as 40 hectares of employment land that are anticipated to bring 2,500 jobs. The upgraded road will also help improve access to Ridgmont train station, which is due to be enlarged as part of Network Rail’s East-West Rail project.

Residents can read more about the A421 road improvements, get progress updates and sign-up for email alerts at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/a421.

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