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You are here: Home Page > Council and Democracy > Council News > Archived News > September 2011 > St Mary's Street closure

Survey reveals major town centre road in danger of collapse

For a list of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the St Mary's Street closure, follow this link.


Bedford Borough Council has announced the temporary closure of a major town centre route after a survey revealed that St Mary’s Street was in danger of collapse. Although the road surface between Duckmill Lane and the junction with Cauldwell St appears in reasonable condition, the surface conceals problems in the roads foundations caused by inadequate drainage.


The conditions mean that it will need to be completely rebuilt and resurfaced in a scheme which will take 8 weeks to complete, starting on 3 October.


Given the extent of work required, St Mary’s St and the Town Bridge will be closed northbound (heading towards St Paul’s Square and the town centre) throughout this period. Southbound traffic will be reduced to one lane.


Councillor Charles Royden, Portfolio Holder for the Environment and Transport, said: “When the former County Council last repaired the road they did not tackle existing drainage problems and simply improved the road surface. As a result the ongoing drainage problems have weakened the structure of the road causing severe surface problems and leaving an unacceptable risk that the road will actually collapse.


“This is a safety issue requiring urgent work now to avoid the possibility of a more serious carriageway failure in the future. Because this is one of our major town centre roads leading to Bedford’s historic town bridge we have to get these repairs done and we will do them properly.


“Nobody wants to have to cause this disruption but these works are vital, requiring major reconstruction and the installation of new drains.


“When we are carrying out road repairs we always try to minimise disruption to users by working outside of peak hours, such as overnight. This is not possible with this scheme as the amount of work required means it must be carried out during the day. Similarly, the depth of excavations required to rebuild the road means we cannot open the road outside of the working hours.


“I urge drivers to avoid the area if at all possible. If anyone has to drive into the town centre they should follow the signed diversion routes which we are putting in place to reduce disruption.


“We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause but I would like to reassure local residents this work is absolutely vital and will prevent more serious work being needed in the near future and provide a better long term surface.”


The working hours at the site will be 7am – 7pm Monday to Friday. However, the traffic restrictions will remain in place 24 hours a day as the reconstruction of the road will prevent vehicles from using the road outside of these hours.


In order to ensure the new road will last as long as possible, a new drainage system will also be installed on the eastern side of the carriageway in addition to a new footpath. Further minor works are scheduled for the western pathway but these will take place after the Christmas period.


Full diversion routes will be signposted around the town centre and on major routes around the borough. Drivers who need to travel into the town centre are asked to follow the signed diversion routes. 


The Council has already written to local residents and businesses to inform them of the works and provide them with contact details should they have any further queries.


The works have been scheduled alongside other major projects on Goldington Road and Dame Alice St and are scheduled to finish before the peak Christmas shopping period.


The full programme of works:
• Complete full depth reconstruction of St Mary’s Street from Duckmill Lane to Cauldwell Street
• Installation of a new kerb drainage system on the eastern side of the carriageway
• Reconstruction of the eastern footway
• Amendments to the existing kerb line and traffic island at the Cardington Road junction

The Council will continue to update residents and businesses on the progress of the works via their website, www.bedford.gov.uk and the Council Twitter account, @bedfordtweets

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