A multi-million pound scheme to upgrade the A421 between Bedford and Milton Keynes has been unveiled.
The £23.5million fund awarded will pay for a new stretch of the carriageway to complete dualling of the route.
The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) has been awarded a Local Growth Deal of £64.4million investment in total for a number of projects across the county.
The A421 project will create 2,500 new jobs and 2,900 new homes, say SEMLEP.
Dr Ann Limb, chairwoman of SEMLEP, said: “We are delighted our Strategic Economic Plan has been agreed by government and that we have secured essential funding for much needed, local and strategic projects which will drive growth across the area and deliver the necessary infrastructure to enable new homes to be built and new employment sites to be developed.”
The announcement means the remaining stretch of A421, linking Junction 13 of the M1 with Fen Farm in Milton Keynes, will be turned into a dual carriageway, a major infrastructure project that will enable people to drive between Bedford and Milton Keynes on uninterrupted dual carriageway.
The other projects include the new 3.3km Woodside Link which will connect Houghton Regis and the industrial estates in Dunstable to the planned new M1 junction 11a.
The Leighton Linslade Engineering and Construction Skills Centre will meet the skills gap in the engineering and construction industries in Central Bedfordshire.
James Jamieson, SEMLEP director and Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “All these projects are excellent news and will bring huge benefits. We are delighted that the government has agreed and that SEMLEP can now also fund the A421 dualling, which will help to improve east west movements and a new skills centre.”
Clive Faine, chairman of SEMLEP’s property, development and infrastructure group, added: “The A421 is a key strategic route between Bedford and Milton Keynes and the M1 so this funding will enable the final dualling of this important strategic road, providing opportunities for new developments for homes and businesses, ease a congestion hotspot and make journeys quicker and easier for commuters, residents and visitors to Milton Keynes.”
Today’s announcement confirms that seven major strategic projects across the South East Midlands – an area which covers Aylesbury, Banbury, Bedford, Bicester, Corby, Daventry, Kettering, Luton, Milton Keynes, Northampton - have been awarded funding, with an initial £19.9 million confirmed for 2015/16 and a further £23.9 million to be spent by 2021. This is in addition to the £14.7 million for major transport schemes already announced.