Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Three proposals put forward for Thames bridge

THREE options are being considered for a third crossing over the River Thames.

They were revealed to members of the Cross Thames Travel Group at a meeting last week.

All would cost more than £110 million and are being looked at as part of an strategic outline business case for the project, which assesses if it is realistic.

The project is being driven by Reading Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council, who are in favour of building the bridge. 

Oxfordshire County Council and South Oxfordshire District Council are working with them on the project but are less enthusiastic due to the potential increase of traffic on rural roads.

Each of the three options propose a bridge over Caversham Lakes from Thames Valley Business Park to Caversham Park Road.

The first is a single lane dual carriageway, costing £110million, second is a single lane dual carriageway with a toll costing £113million and the third is a two-lane dual carriageway, with one lane for public transport, costing £163million.

The presentation ranked the single lane option without toll as the best value for money with the tolled bridge the worst value.

It used traffic modelling data collected by consultants WSP and Peter Brett Associates which said the single-lane bridge would reduce congestion on both Reading bridges and Sonning Bridge but would create more traffic on some roads in south Oxfordshire villages and Caversham.

According to the presentation, Henley would also see a reduction in congestion.

Councillor David Bartholomew, whose county council ward covers the nine villages around Henley, including Eye and Dunsden, where the bridge would land, was not invited to the meeting. He said: “I think there is a problem in that the interpretation of the results have all been done by people who are in favour of the bridge.

“It has not been robustly scrutinised in terms of the traffic flows. It needs a robust interpretation by parties that have some sort of scepticism to get a balanced overview.”

The next step for the project is the creation of an outline business case, which would include refining the economic case and environmental assessment, some preliminary design work and ground investigations.

Mr Bartholomew said this could cost about £750,000, adding: “In the current climate that could be spent in a better way.”

Last week, Reading East MP Matt Rodda told BBC Radio Berkshire that the meeting was another step towards getting the bridge built but Henley MP John Howell replied saying this was a “misinterpretation”. He added that no agreement was made to build a bridge and no money was in place to do so.

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