Work is to start on a redesigned Clophill roundabout improvement scheme that addresses rising construction costs, delivers important benefits for road users, and responds to feedback from residents by retaining the footbridge over the A507.
Central Bedfordshire Council’s contractor Octavius will be setting up their site compound and begin preparation work on the scheme on Monday 20 February.
Rising construction costs due to inflation are a national issue affecting capital projects across the UK. Following the procurement process, significant inflationary pressures in the construction industry led to tenders coming in over the scheme’s allocated budget; a budget that was set in May 2021 before construction inflation costs soared.
Knowing the strength of public feeling during the consultation, Central Bedfordshire Council has taken this opportunity to reassess the plans to redesign the roundabout and will move forward with an amended scheme that keeps the footbridge. Remodelling the planned roundabout brings the project costs in line with the budget and still delivers significant benefits for road users, local residents, and communities across Central Bedfordshire.
Two lanes in and out on all four arms will see enhanced roundabout capacity enabling more vehicles to get through the junction at the same time. However, by reducing the distance these lanes extend on the eastern A507 arm to about 25 metres the footbridge and its ramp will stay. The other arms will remain like the original plans, although reducing the length of the two lane approach on the southern A6 arm enables the existing bridge over River Flit to be kept, which is a significant cost saving.
The improvements will see road users benefit from reduced journey times especially during busy periods, with the exception being for traffic heading eastbound on the A507 at peak travel times in the evening and on the A6 northbound arm in the morning peak travel period. This is because of the decision to keep the footbridge and not extend the two lanes fully on the A507 eastern arm, which saves money given the rising inflation and acts on the consultation feedback.
The scheme will include the reduced 30mph speed limits on the approaches to the roundabout and the installation of three toucan crossings offering pedestrians a dedicated crossing point on all four arms. The previously proposed toucan crossing on the A507 eastern arm will not be installed as the footbridge is retained.
Cllr Kevin Collins, Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration, said: “We know the main concern from residents was the removal of the footbridge, I’m pleased that we have been able to accommodate this in the revised design. Although this doesn’t deliver the maximum travel time benefits that could be achieved by removing the bridge, the revised scheme will still reduce waiting times for most drivers, and we can still provide the other benefits for local residents too such as improved footways, cycleways and new toucan crossings so residents are no longer cut off from each other.
“As a council, we have a responsibility to forward plan and deliver improvements that have long-term benefits and we expect the volume of traffic to increase through this key junction. It’s vital that we create infrastructure schemes that look to the future and support a prosperous Central Bedfordshire.
“We also have a responsibility to spend public money wisely and inflation has led to spiralling increases in construction costs, which led to tenders coming in over budget. Looking again at the component parts of the scheme was the right thing to do in managing costs but also delivering the right benefits now and for our future.”
The important scheme supports the future of Central Bedfordshire by building much-needed extra capacity at this busy junction which will see more traffic in the future, particularly with the planned M1/A6 link road. It’s part of the Council’s continued forward-planning approach to support a prosperous area that benefits residents and the communities across Central Bedfordshire.
Cllr Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services, said: “Construction starting is a key milestone for a project that will have a positive impact on road users, residents, and businesses.
“Our role is to plan for the future and to create the right infrastructure to bring significant benefits for our communities and our residents.
“We secured £6.8million of government funding for this project which is much more than a road improvement scheme, it’s part of the building blocks we continue to put in place to ensure Central Bedfordshire continues to thrive.”
A new digital flythrough will be available in the next few weeks showing the planned improvements at the roundabout.
The Council appointed Octavius as its construction partner for the scheme that benefits from £6.8 million of government Levelling Up funding.
Further information on when the carriageway works will start will follow in the coming weeks. This will include information on planned diversion routes.
More information is available at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/clophill