Sunday, 17 December 2017

Impact of third Thames bridge to be assessed

A STUDY is to be carried out to assess the impact on traffic of a third Thames crossing.

The move was agreed at a meeting on Friday attended by representatives of Oxfordshire County Council and Reading and Wokingham borough councils.

The study, which is expected to take place next year, will be led by Wokingham and funded by the councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

It will cover a wide area of South Oxfordshire and Berkshire as far as the M3 and M25 motorways, much bigger than that one used in a preliminary survey carried out earlier this year.

Reading East MP Rob Wilson, who chaired the meeting with Henley MP John Howell, said: “The data collected will be absolutely imperative to providing an accurate traffic model, which in turn can determine all the potential impacts a third bridge will have on the wider local area.

“Those who said it couldn’t be done or that Oxfordshire County Council would never engage have been proved resoundingly wrong.”

Mr Howell said the study did not mean a third bridge over the Thames was guaranteed.

He said: “At the previous meeting the survey which had been produced by Wokingham Borough Council raised more questions than answers.

“What we needed was a more detailed study that took into account wider areas and looked at the implications for roads in places like Nettlebed and Watlington.

“It’s a step forward to assessing whether there’s a genuine need to have a bridge which is not going to have an impact on roads in South Oxfordshire but there’s no preconception of what the outcome is likely to be.

“What we are trying to do is provide evidence that looks at this issue properly and on the basis of that we will know whether to move forward with this.”

Following the last meeting in July, Oxfordshire county councillor David Nimmo Smith said his council couldn’t see any economic benefit of a new bridge and didn’t know where the finding for it would come from.

He claimed the preliminary study was “inconclusive” and contained incorrect information.

After attending Friday’s meeting, he said: “The first study was relatively modest and needs to go further so this larger study will pick up a larger area.

“What we don’t know at the moment is where the best place for the bridge is, whether it’s east nearer Caversham or west by Pangbourne. The study will show what the impact of both these bridges would be on traffic in Reading.

“Reading borough’s attitude is that they need a bridge on the eastern side but we are saying where is the evidence? It could cost up to £100 million and where’s that money going to come from? If it’s a local congestion issue you won’t get £100 million from the Government.”

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