The longest guided busway in the world is due to be handed over to Cambridgeshire County Council next month.
Busway contractor BAM Nuttall say they are confident that they will be able to hand over the completed northern section of The Busway by the end of October, and all the necessary construction certificates will be in place by opening.
An agreement is now being finalised between the two parties to formally hand over the track.
“Recent news that the improvements to the A14 have once again been pushed back means The Busway opening is more important than ever,” said Cambridgeshire County Councillor Roy Pegram.
“There will be no traffic jams on The Busway track so journey times are guaranteed and passengers will travel in comfort on luxury buses that will provide a very smooth ride.”
The busway, linking Huntingdon, St Ives, Somersham and Cambridge, is a dedicated track for buses and comprises two precast concrete beams with upstanding kerbs. The bus has two small extra wheels attached in front of its regular wheels which engage with the kerbs and steer the bus along the track.
A guided busway was chosen by Cambridgeshire as it uses less space than a standard road. Buses can travel much closer together because they are constrained within the two kerbs of the track.
“The route is along a narrow rail corridor which we could not widen,” said Cambridgeshire County Council head of delivery for the busway Bob Menzies
“A full road with verges would have been significantly wider than the guided busway.”
Also the drainage is improved as water can drain away between the track beams.
“The hard impermeable surface area of the busway is about half that of a road,” said Menzies.
The precast steel reinforced concrete beams which form the track were cast at Longstanton, where a special pre-casting concrete shed was set up. A concrete batching plant was set up on site and concrete taken straight into the concrete shed to be moulded.
“Using precast beams, we get a better ride quality compared to a road surface,” said Menzies.
The beams are generally 15 metres long and each section of track (two beams and a spacer block bolted together) weighs 30 tonnes.
The beams are fixed to the ground by heavy duty steel brackets on concrete pad foundations.
The busway will cost a total of £116M. The government is providing £92.5M with the rest of the funding coming from local developers. Contractor BAM Nuttall was appointed by the council to build the busway in July 2006
The track is being built along the route of the old St Ives to Cambridge railway line, and from Cambridge Railway Station to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Trumpington Park & Ride.
Where guided buses travel on normal roads they will use bus priority measures, including new bus lanes and bus priority traffic signals.
There will also be a new bridleway for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders built alongside The Busway track from St Ives to Cambridge Science Park.