Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Roadworks finally to go ahead

REPAIRS to the road between Sonning and Playhatch will finally begin on Monday following a meeting between residents and council officials.

The B478 Playhatch Road will continue to be open to single lane traffic only during the estimated eight weeks of work.

Oxfordshire County Council had hoped to have started the repairs during the school summer holidays when less traffic used the road through Sonning but the work was delayed. The council blamed a contractor.

The road was closed for six weeks during flooding early this year and was then reduced to one lane for safety reasons because the water had eroded the embankments and cracked the surface of the road.

A unanimous decision on a plan of action was reached at the meeting held at the French Horn restaurant in Sonning last week between residents, business owners and council officials.

The council says the work has been organised to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum and that the road is still usable with access to Sonning and the businesses. All work will be carried out during the day and traffic will be managed by traffic lights, as it is now. The work should be completed by mid-November.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, cabinet member for transport, said the meeting was told there were three options for the work — to close the road 24 hours a day so the repairs could be completed as soon as possible or to either work on one carriageway at a time 24 hours a day or just during the day.

He said: “When we asked about doing it 24/7 they said they would like to get some sleep, so it was their choice to go with the normal daytime hours.

“I am very pleased that we have been able to discuss the options with the residents and come to a solution that is agreed by all parties. This work is going to be very important and despite it taking some time to get to this point, I am delighted that it will start very soon and the road can fully re-open in a matter of weeks.

“We can work on one carriageway at a time and so can keep the existing traffic light management.

“The work will take eight weeks to do. Six weeks will be taken up repairing where the traffic lights are but then we will move them down the road and spend two weeks repairing between the entrance to Lafarge and the roundabout.”

Henley MP John Howell said: “I am really pleased that the road is being redone and that it will be open during the work but I am disappointed that it has taken so long to reach this conclusion.”

The council had applied to the Government for £950,000 in order to raise the road to prevent flooding in the future but was unsuccessful following fears that it might lead to flooding elsewhere.

David Vass, general manager of the Mill at Sonning, said: “We are very pleased with the outcome of the meeting. I think originally the council wanted to close the road to do the work but found it could stay open, which is good for the businesses and the residents as the work will be done at a time when we can get some sleep.”

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