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Mayor Announces Bedford Town Centre Decongestion Plan, as Work Begins on Road Bridge Project

June 20, 2014 10:40 PM
Deputy Mayor Cllr Charles Royden and Mayor Dave Hodgson in front of the location of the planned new Bedford Town Centre bridge

Executive Member for Environment and Transport Cllr Charles Royden is working with Mayor Dave to bring forward the new Bedford Town Centre bridge linking Kingsway and River Street

• Plans Being Drawn Up for Council's Planned New Road Bridge Linking River Street and Kingsway

• £500,000 to be allocated to kickstart work on the new bridge

• Plans will transform local transport system, cutting journey speeds for all road users and creating more space for pedestrians

• Project continues widespread town centre regeneration including new Bus Station, return of town centre cinema, new riverside restaurants and more

Mayor Dave Hodgson has announced that work is underway on a radical Town Centre decongestion plan for Bedford Town Centre, with the construction of the Council's planned new Road Bridge over the river at its heart. The new Town Centre Bridge, which will link Kingsway to River Street in Bedford Town Centre, has long been desired locally as a measure which would make a fundamental difference in dealing with rising traffic levels. Mayor Dave has signalled an end to the talking and confirmed that the project is underway, kickstarted by an allocation of an initial half a million pounds for preparatory work on the design of the bridge and wider decongestion plans.

Commenting, Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "Bedford Town Centre is now on the up, with our free Saturday parking, new bus station and the return of town centre cinema and other attractions. However, we have a road system that is creaking. We want nothing less than the best for Bedford Town Centre, and frankly I'm not prepared to accept the congestion and delays which people are forced to endure in getting into and around town. We need nothing less than a drastic improvement for all road users and pedestrians, and that is what we will deliver.'

"The extra town centre bridge has often been talked of over the years, as everyone knows that it would deliver the radical improvement needed to get traffic moving. Rather than just talk about it, we are going to make it happen, just as we are doing with the bus station and town centre regeneration."

With the success achieved in bringing forward a series of regeneration and infrastructure schemes including the long-awaited new bus station and the return of town centre cinema and new riverside restaurants, Mayor Dave has made the new Town Centre road bridge a priority in order to tackle road congestion. It was included as a priority project for investment via the Community Infrastructure Levy in January 2014 and the route was protected in the development agreement for the new riverside scheme. It featured in the Council's Allocations and Designations Plan Policies Map, also published in January, while Mayor Dave ensured its inclusion in 2013's South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership's Infrastructure Investment Plan .

Work is underway on the initial planning and scoping of the project, with the bridge as the central feature of a wider town centre decongestion plan. The project will be planned in order to benefit all road users, with further details to be announced as they are worked up.

An exciting time for Bedford Town Centre is now underway, featuring a brand new bus station, the return of town centre cinema, new riverside restaurants and public squares, the new Higgins Bedford and more, and the town centre decongestion plan will support and enhance the improvements taking place. It will be designed to make it easier to get to and around Bedford Town Centre, and will encourage further growth and investment in Bedford Town Centre.

The news comes as new figures confirm that Bedford is bucking the national and regional trend in reducing empty shop space, which has increased nationally and is much higher in neighbouring towns such as Luton, Northampton and Milton Keynes. Bedford's Brand New bus station will be complete by Spring 2015, while Mayor Dave continues to work successfully to overcome the obstacles in the way of the crucial final section of the western bypass.