Review: A5 Dunstable Northern Bypass

Never one to shy away from an exciting review, in this article I’ll be describing the thrills and spills of doing the speed limit down one of Bedfordshire’s newest trunk roads, the highway formerly known as the A5-M1 Link Road. but is now just called the A5 after the old road south of the start point was handed to Central Bedfordshire UA and Hertfordshire County Council and renamed to A505/A5183.  Apart from being a road, it has one purpose, and that’s avoiding Dunstable (and who would want to argue with that?)  The road opened in the summer, but this is the first excuse I’ve had to drive it, which promised to take me all the way to M1.

The road starts here at an enlarged and remodelled roundabout on the A5 proper just above the roundabout where the A505 branches off to Leighton Buzzard.  The road is National Speed Limit applies dual carriageway for all of its length, and has a gentle enough curve that it feels fairly ‘straight’ to drive on.

The first nasty surprise came just one mile in, when a roundabout appeared in the distance.  Although I knew it was there from reading the map, at 70 mph that roundabout only takes about a minute to get to, and meant I had to slow down again for, well, no reason at all.  The road it intersects is the B5120, which takes you to Toddington to the north, and Houghton Regis to the south.

Once past the roundabout, it was back to NSL dual carriageway again for a further 1.7 miles and then we reach the brand-new M1 junction 11A.  The roundabout is a dumbbell-style roundabout, with two smaller roundabouts at each side of the motorway.  The easternmost roundabout is a teardrop shape rather than a complete roundabout.  What you might have missed from driving down from the link road itself, but you can see from the map, is that Sundon Rd passes over the new link road (accessible from Woodside Link off the westernmost dumbbell roundabout) which lead to two roundabouts which are also like a dumbbell junction, but none of the roads on these two roundabouts lead to the motorway but local routes.  Both these roundabouts were built as part of this scheme.

The complete road is just 2.8 miles long, and it’s over in a few short minutes, dumping you unceremoniously onto the M1 to, no doubt, get stuck in a big queue along with everyone else.  On the day I did this review, the M1 didn’t disappoint.

So, to the scores:

Drive rating: 8/10 – nice new tarmac surface and no sharp bends
Speed rating: 7/10 (can do the national speed limit on it but that pesky B5120 roundabout stopped me from doing the whole thing in under three minutes)
Avoiding Dunstable rating: 10/10  – Does the job nicely