At 13.4km, the Luton Dunstable Busway promises to revolutionise public transport by providing passengers with a faster service. Specially adapted buses will be given priority at junctions and buses will travel at 50mph.
Upgrades will also be made to more than 250 bus stops away from the main route. These stops will include real time passenger information and raised pavements for level boarding, whilst stops along the main corridor will benefit from CCTV and help access points. In addition, a new cycle route will also run alongside the length of the busway.
The Luton Dunstable Busway is being implemented through a partnership between Luton Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council. Main contractor for the project is Bam Nuttall, whilst Atkins Ltd is providing project management support and site supervision. Approximately 200 people will be employed throughout the development of the project.
Preparation work on the project began in 2009 with the relocation of local wildlife from the surrounding area. In late 2010 detailed design work took place and six disused railway bridge decks were removed.
On 21st November 2011, the first concrete beam – weighing 4.8 tonnes and measuring 6m x 480mm – was laid on the project in Church Street, Dunstable. Approximately 4,700 concrete beams will be used during construction of the busway, with each of the beams precision built and accurate to within 2mm.
Luton Council Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Councillor Roy Davis, said: “This is an exciting landmark in the delivery of the Luton Dunstable Busway and confirms the excellent progress that is being made on the ground.
“The busway will offer all the connectivity of a bus, with the speed of a train.
“Buses will not only run along the main corridor itself, but also reach out into the community to serve 265 bus stops away from the main route across Luton and Dunstable.
“The busway offers an unrivalled opportunity to change people’s local travel habits by providing a high-tech public transport service that will reach deep into our communities.”
There will be seven main stops along the busway: Houghton Regis at Portland Ride, White Lion Retail Park in Dunstable; and Toland Close, Maple Road, Luton Station, Stirling Place and London Luton Airport.
Eight access points will also serve surrounding local communities. These include Houghton Regis at Blackburn Road; Church Street in Dunstable; Skimpot Road, Chaul End Lane, Manchester Street, Guildford Street, Church Street and London Luton Airport in Luton.
Around 10.4km of the busway will consist of a two-way segregated route between Blackburn Road in Houghton Regis through to Kimpton Road, whilst a new bus lane will continue the route to London Luton Airport.
As part of the development, a new junction at College Drive, Dunstable, has been constructed. A further junction will be installed at New Bedford Road, Luton.
Central Bedfordshire Council Executive Member for Sustainable Communities Services ,Councillor Brian Spurr, said:
“Our contractors have been busy for many months, preparing the route and clearing major structures.
“It’s wonderful to be able to see the busway itself taking shape before our eyes.”
Further work throughout 2012 will include the demolition of the bridge at Telford Way and modification works at Old Bedford Road. In addition, earthworks will be carried out along the length of the busway corridor.
A new interchange and passenger drop-off zone at Luton Station will also be introduced in 2012, and will have the capacity for 14 buses.
Luton Borough Council Environment & Regeneration Corporate Director, Colin Chick, said:
“The Luton Dunstable Busway will be an impressive engineering accomplishment, but more important than that it links four of the poorest wards in the conurbation with the station, businesses, work, education, health and leisure facilities.
“For the young and for people with disabilities it’s no exaggeration to say it will deliver life-changing opportunities.”
Early estimates predict that the Luton Dunstable Busway will cut journey times between Houghton Regis, Dunstable, Luton town centre and London Luton Airport by half.
The project will be completed in 2013.