The Wokingham Paper

Wokingham’s Eastern Gateway road gets approval

Eastern Gatewat
An artist's impression of what the Eastern Gateway could look like

A NEW single carriageway road that will connect Montague Park with a new four-way roundabout at Waterloo Road was approved by councillors meeting for the Planning Committee on Wednesday, February 14.

The road will include a new bridge to be constructed over the Reading to Waterloo railway line.

The council desires that the road should act as a bus corridor, serving local needs and be a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as being a key public street within Wokingham borough.

It is also hoped that the road will help alleviate some of the traffic pressure on Wokingham’s town centre, as it will take traffic from London Road through to Finchampstead Road.

The route was determined by a public consultation in 2014.

As a result of the bridge being built, the existing level crossing would be closed. The bridge has been designed by Network Rail on behalf of Wokingham Borough Council and will be eight metres high.

Now the scheme has been passed, it is expected that work will start early next year and will open towards the end of 2020.

An application for the reminder of the SDR from Waterloo Road west to Finchampstead Road, including associated improvements in the Finchampstead Road corridor is expected during 2019.

Although the scheme was approved, Wokingham Borough Council’s conservation officer objected to it, noting that the scheme would “result in some harm to the setting of nearby heritage assets”.

Wokingham Without Parish Council also expressed concern saying that they lacked confidence in “modelling given the current experience with road works in Wokingham Town Centre”.

Wokingham Town Council raised concerns over a shared cycle/footway, saying it was “highly dangerous” for pedestrians.

Planning committee member Cllr Philip Houldsworth said: “I welcome this proposal”.

It was passed unanimously.

In a statement released after the meeting, Cllr David Lee, deputy leader and executive member for strategic highways and planning said: “We’re thrilled the next phase of our major highways project has been approved. Detailed design work will begin imminently with construction starting early next year and this second phase we hope will be completed in autumn 2020.”

The SWDR is one of the schemes within the council’s major highways project to be delivered by Balfour Beatty.

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David Roland

I rather doubt that there will be the hoped for relief considering the distribution roads, both north and south will pass through housing estates and around roundabouts. And the southern distributor road is planned to join the Finchampstead Road at the roundabout next to Tescos, and between the two rail bridges.

Regarding the closure of the Waterloo Road Crossing rather than close crossings the rail authorities should be adding to the crossing points, and substantially improving the existing bottleneck crossings.

The railways in Wokingham cause substantial delays in travel because there are so few crossings or bridges. The bridges themselves are low and narrow. The rail Authorities have never done anything to improve this as traffic has increased. Unfortunately the road layout does not offer many options. Especially when there is a breakdown or roadworks diversions of miles are necessary to get from one side of the tracks to the other. And even without any particular problem there are regular delays of half an hour and more – each way!

At the same time there are thousands of houses being built directly in Wokingham adding to already vastly overcrowded roads.

So to close an existing crossing simply to save the Rail Network money transfers the expense in time, money and pollution to the residents of Wokingham. The Waterloo Road Crossing has no particular record of incidents, but also helps reduce the long queues at the crossing on the Easthampstead Road. In closing the Waterloo Road Crossing the rail authorities show little concern for the general public, but only their purse.

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