Cllr Richard Willis is Conservative Spokesman for Transport. He outlines what Conservatives would do.
Transport has long been one of the most contentious subjects in Reading. Some of the most pivotal political debates on the Council in the last ten years have been about transport issues. Who can forget the debate about Labour’s ill-conceived plans for the one-way IDR and their wasting of over £1m on the proposal?
Back in 2008 the Reading Conservative Group published our transport manifesto which included plans for a major cycle hire scheme, a review of traffic lighted junctions, a new pedestrian/cycle bridge over the Thames, and a new relief road between Reading Station and the A3290 and Thames Valley Business Park. The first three were started when the Conservatives led the Council in 2010/11, and whilst Labour has halted the review of traffic lighted junctions, it has continued with the cycle hire scheme and the pedestrian/cycle bridge. The fourth scheme however has not really progressed since Labour resumed control, with a reduced scheme being considered for a public transport link between the Station and the A3290. While this will benefit the business in Thames Valley Park and the people who work there, it will do nothing to relieve the pressure on one of Reading’s most congested and polluted parts of town.
The Kings Road and Cemetery Junction is a congestion and pollution hot-spot. The queues of stationary traffic ensure that the air quality is poor and the delays for car users and businesses vehicles are costly and frustrating. Only bus users can usually speed past the queuing traffic up Kings Road until they reach Cemetery Junction itself. There is no opportunity to widen the road at Cemetery Junction without destroying many houses and shops and therefore an alternative solution is needed. Sadly there have also been many accidents on the Kings Road in recent years. What is needed is something which relieves the pressure on this over-used route.
The solution, as we set out in 2008, is a relief road linking the Station and A3290, with segregated cycle lanes running alongside. This new road would be open to all traffic and not just public transport and would not only improve things for people working in Thames Valley Park but would also provide a better route for those needing to get fromCaversham and the town centre out of Reading to the east.Most importantly though, it would relieve pressure on the Kings Road and Cemetery Junction area. As well as the new road, a Park and Ride scheme would need to be provided for people coming into Reading off the A329(M)/A3290 and this is already planned in the more limited proposals which have been under discussion between Reading and Wokingham Councils.
To be effective in relieving congestion at Cemetery Junctionthe new road link would have to be open to private vehicles and would require a new bridge over the Kennet Mouth. This could be constructed in a way which protects the listed Horse Shoe Bridge and does not damage the ecosystem in the Kennet Mouth area. As a town like Reading develops it is important to provide the infrastructure that allows efficient movement between key locations. To invest almost £1bn in an upgraded Reading Station without linking it effectively to one of our largest business parks and the A329(M) would be perverse.
Reading is a thriving shopping and business hub but it also has a reputation for being a congestion hot spot with long delays and poor air quality at peak times. If Reading is to continue to grow and succeed it needs new and effective transport links. Our proposed new link road, segregated cycle lanes, and park and ride, would provide much needed capacity, reduce congestion and pollution at Cemetery Junction and directly link the Station with some of the biggest employers in the area.
In partnership with Wokingham Borough Council, this plan can be delivered.