M1 chaos this weekend

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Coach drivers are being warned to allow extra time to negotiate an important section of the M1 in Bedfordshire this weekend.

The motorway is due to be closed in both directions for 16 hours between J11 (Luton north) and 13 (A421, Bedford) while an overbridge is demolished.

The closure, scheduled for between 2000 on Saturday (June 30) and noon on Sunday (July 1), will see the 1,400-tonne bridge at J12 removed using hydraulic breakers.

Northbound traffic will be encouraged to leave the M1 at Junction 9 to prevent the A5/A505 junction in Dunstable becoming congested. Drivers will be diverted from J9 along the A5 through Dunstable and Milton Keynes, where it will join the A509 Portway and re-join the M1 at J14. The Highways Agency says the diversion is expected to add 25 minutes to journey times.

Southbound traffic will be diverted from J13 along the A421 to the A1, down the A1/A1(M) to the M25 and either continue its journey or go back up the M1 to Luton. Up to an hour should be allowed for this diversion.

The reinforced concrete bridge, which carries the old A5120 over the M1 and has not been used since a new bridge opened in May, needs to be demolished to make way for new slip roads at J12, as part of the M1 J10 to J13 managed motorway scheme.

According to the Highways Agency, the first phase of managed motorway between J10 and 11 is almost complete, with testing now being carried out ahead of it becoming fully operational this summer.