Motorists heading for London Luton Airport and into Luton town centre via M1 Junction 10a are advised to allow extra time for their journeys over the next 18 months as long-awaited improvement works get under way.
The £30 million scheme, supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, will tackle significant queues and congestion experienced at the junction by removing the existing roundabout and widening the M1 spur road and New Airport Way (A1081) to three lanes in each direction between Junction 10 and Capability Green.
In order to keep any disruption to a minimum, Luton Borough Council is today confirming its intention to keep two lanes open in each direction whenever possible during daytime and peak hours throughout the works. Nonetheless motorists should allow for potential delays when planning their journeys.
The works programme is scheduled to run for 70 weeks, with the finished road due to open by spring/summer 2015.
Two new roundabouts will also be built to allow road users to join and leave both the widened carriageway and a realigned London Road, with improved pedestrian and cycle routes additionally provided.
Cllr Sian Timoney, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for regeneration, said: “Junction 10a is currently the weak link in the route between the M1, London Luton Airport and the town centre. These long-awaited improvements will significantly improve the reliability of journey times and safety for motorists.
“A scheme of this size cannot be delivered without some disruption and that is why we are advising everyone using the route to allow extra time for their journeys. We will however be doing everything possible to keep any inconvenience to an absolute minimum and our goals are to make as many people as possible aware of the works and help traffic continue to flow as freely as possible.”
The first phase of the project is to begin utility diversions, and to build a new temporary road that will divert traffic and allow a new underbridge to be constructed with the minimal possible impact on road users.
From Wednesday 15 January for around six weeks, two-way traffic lights will be in operation in London Road, Luton, from 9.30am-3pm on weekdays.
From week commencing Monday 20 January, and also for around six weeks, overnight lane closures will be in place on the M1 spur, A1081 New Airport Way and Kidney Wood roundabout from 8pm-6am each weekday evening. Narrow lanes and cones will remain in the area during day-time hours.
From early March onwards, a 24-hour 30mph speed limit will be introduced on the M1 spur / New Airport Way in order to maintain the safety of the workforce. Later in the programme it is also anticipated that it will be necessary to close M1 Junction 10 on a number of Saturday evenings to allow for the safe installation of new overhead sign gantries.
Motorists are advised to expect further night-time lane closures on the M1 spur / New Airport Way, and continuing traffic management and speed restrictions in the surrounding area throughout the works.
Further information about ongoing closures and any recommended diversions will be issued as it becomes available.
Cllr Timoney added: “The Council has worked hard for a long time to secure the funding that is now enabling this scheme to be delivered. For too long motorists passing through M1 J10a have suffered unacceptable journey times, particularly at peak times, and Luton’s economy and employment growth has been held back because regeneration of several key sites in the south and east of the town could not take place.
“We are working hard to minimise the impact on road users and the environment and look forward to ensuring that Luton can fully share the benefits of the recent £800 million improvements to the M1 in this area.”