Crossing the River Great Ouse
The A5140 is a short route bypassing Bedford town centre - but at one time it was much longer.
The road starts at traffic lights where the A5141 TOTSOs near Bedford Hospital. The A5140 heads northeast along Ampthill Road and goes over the Bedford to Bletchley line by Bedford St Johns station to reach a roundabout where it crosses the A600 (which runs along a one-way loop to the north). Incidentally, both the A600 and Ampthill Road are former routes of the A6 which now passes to the west of town multiplexing along the A428.
We continue on past a retail park and meet the A603 at the next roundabout before we curve onto Longholme Way, a wide, leafy road apparently running through a park. We now bear left and cross the two channels of the River Great Ouse before becoming residential on the far side. We head north past another retail park before running along the suburban Newnham Avenue to end at traffic lights on the A4280.
The A5140 number came into being in the 1960s with the construction of the M1. The motorway junction for the town, J13, was built to interchange with the B557 - and so the road was upgraded to Class I status to serve the town with a more suitable number. Originally, therefore, the A5140 started on the A418 (present A4012) at Husborne Crawley and headed north across the M1 and then northeast via Marston Mortaine to end on the A6 in Bedford town centre. The extension to the east, the road's current route, came later.
It wasn't long, however, before the A421 (whose original eastern end was in Buckingham) was extended east via the growing New Town of Milton Keynes and the majority of the A5140 into Bedford (the section south of the M1 became part of the A4012). This left the town-centre section as all that survived - and is therefore out-of-zone being entirely east of the A6. The road's current route is due to road improvements in the interim.
The old route of the A5140 between the M1 and Bedford was largely bypassed in the 2000s to provide a D2 link from the M1 to the A1 via Bedford.