Bedford Ford End Road Bridge closure 'to cause gridlock'

Image caption,
Ford End Road links the centre of Bedford to the Queen's Park area of the town

The six-month closure of a bridge will cause "gridlock" in a town, some fear.

Ford End Road Bridge in Bedford is closing from 19 February until August, so Network Rail can continue electrification the Midland Main Line to Kettering and Corby.

The structures of the bridge will be reconstructed so 25,000-volt overhead line equipment can pass safely beneath.

Network Rail apologised for any inconvenience caused and said it was taking steps to minimise disruption.

Mike Wooldridge, from Bedford, said: "It is going to cause major issues.

"I have a fair amount of sympathy with Network Rail as I cannot see that there's another viable way to electrify the northbound fast line, which is needed medium-term."

Image caption,
Ford End Road Bridge is a 19-span brick arch carrying Ford End Road over the Midland Main Line

Richard Stringer said: "Ford End Road is the only main road that leads in and out of Queens Park. I imagine (surrounding roads) will be backed up and gridlocked."

Sarah Canning said: "I basically will never be on time for work."

Commuter Helen Patterson said: "My crystal ball predicts gridlock."

Image caption,
The road will close on 19 February, with a local diversion in place

Wendy Bell of Network Rail said: "We have worked with Bedford Borough Council and other stakeholders on making the diversion route as effective as possible, with traffic management that is staffed and can be adapted according to traffic levels.

Image source, Network Rail
Image caption,
Diversions are in place via Hurst Grove, Bromham Road and Ashburnham Road

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused and will provide regular updates on how the project is progressing."

Image caption,
The Midland Main Line is currently electrified from London to Bedford

A spokeswoman from Bedford Borough Council said: "A signed diversion is being put in place via Hurst Grove and Bromham Road with two-way traffic signals being placed at this junction to help residents gain access to this main road."

The pedestrian footbridge will remain open.

A further public event on the work is being held at Bedford Central Library, between 10:00 and 16:00 GMT on Saturday.

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