Highways England’s new M1 motorway junction 11A and A5-M1 Link road opened on Thursday 11th May 2017, which means that drivers can now enjoy a faster and easier route around Dunstable and Houghton Regis.
The A5-M1 Link road is part-funded by Central Bedfordshire Council. Together with the Woodside Link road, this road achieves the next significant milestone in the overall regeneration of Dunstable and Houghton Regis.
Now that the new roads are open, the process of de-trunking the existing roads can begin. The A5 through Dunstable will become the A5183, and the A5120 will become the B5120. As a result of this reclassification, the road through Dunstable town centre will no longer be part of the Highways England road network, but Central Bedfordshire Council's responsibility.
Central Bedfordshire Council will also start to implement a new weight limit in Houghton Regis, Dunstable, Toddington, Chalton and many local roads to stop heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) using these local roads (unless they are making deliveries). We will re-route HGVs that are just driving through to more appropriate roads instead, such as the new A5-M1 Link and Woodside Link roads.
Jason Longhurst, Director of Regeneration and Business at Central Bedfordshire Council, said:
“These link roads demonstrate our commitment to partnership working and creating the infrastructure that will help us to bring 7,000 much needed new homes to the area. Now that the new motorway junction and its inter-related link roads are all open, we can really start to unlock the potential of both Dunstable and Houghton Regis. The roads can facilitate the transformation of the area, to help improve the local quality of life, create jobs and homes, and enable businesses to thrive.
“As well as better road connections and quicker journey times, once the de-trunking and weight limits are in place then the local residents will also benefit in terms of less congestion and improved air quality. This process involves changing a lot of signage on the local roads and the M1, and we will also start an education programme with the local businesses to ensure that lorry drivers understand the new weight limit restrictions.
“When the weight limits are in place we will also increase enforcement activity to ensure that HGV drivers use the new road routes. This will include the use of additional Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology and extra enforcement officers to help apply the ban.
“Overall, these processes will take a few months to implement, but afterward the local towns and villages should experience lighter traffic, and we can start improving Dunstable’s high street as part of a wider regeneration project that will help restore its market town charm.”