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First thoughts on the plans for Phase 2 of the Winnersh Relief Road

by Prue Bray on 6 April, 2018

These are my first thoughts on the plans.  I haven’t been through the Transport Assessment thoroughly yet, but I have looked at just about everything else.  I have sent a list of 14 questions in to the project manager and planning officer on things I have noticed as I went through.  At this stage I am trying to build a full picture of what’s proposed – I haven’t fully thought out what I think of it yet.

King Street Lane junction

  • Once Phase 2 is built, if you travel from Reading Road down the new road towards Lower Earley, when you reach King Street Lane you will only be able to turn left or go straight on.
  • Once Phase 2 is built, if you travel from the Winnersh crossroads down King Street Lane towards Arborfield, you will only be able to turn left into Longdon Road (Phase 2) or go straight on. (But before Phase 2 is built, you will be able to turn right into Phase 1).

So to reach Sainsburys from Sandstone Close or Laburnum Road you will need to turn left onto Phase 2 and left onto Reading Road – although you can come back along King Street Lane. And to go home if you live in the Hatch Farm Dairies estate you will need to go down the Reading Road to the new roundabout and turn up Phase 2 of the Relief Road.  Or go in via Lower Earley Way.

Although the King Street Lane junction has only just been built, Phase 2 will require part of it to be rebuilt.  One might have hoped they would have got it designed so that no changes were needed, but apparently not.  The drawings show two of the islands in King Street Lane will have to be redone and the traffic lights moved (document number 70031261-WRR2-100-002).

Roundabout on Reading Road

New road surface and markings will start from outside numbers 325 (odd side) and 330 (evens side) Reading Road, towards and under the motorway bridge.

The new roundabout will be offset from the current line of Reading Road, into what is currently a copse of trees.  The curve towards the roundabout will start next to the driveway of 324 Reading Road.  I have a concern about visibility round the corner to the roundabout for 324 Reading Road.

People living at 307 – 317 Reading Road will have a side turning in the shape of a hammer head off Reading Road created for them to access their properties.  From drawing  70031261-WRR2-100-003 it looks as though that hammer head will be right up against their boundary walls.

319 Reading Road will be left with a difficult access, as it looks as if a traffic sign is right on the edge of the driveway.   325 also appears to have a traffic sign to contend with.  The bus stop markings are in front of the driveway for 323.  There is a bus stop in that area at the moment, so hopefully this does not represent a greater obstacle than they have now.   303 and 305 Reading Road keep their current access, although as the approach to the roundabout from Wokingham has already started it will be more difficult for them to get in and out than it currently is.

Woodward Close is offset from the roundabout, but on the approach to it.  The existing traffic signals will disappear – but a toucan crossing will remain, except that it will be where the traffic light currently are rather than next to the bridge where it is now.

According to the Design & Access Statement, section 1.2 (p 10 of the PDF) Woodward Close will become left turn out and left turn in only.   However, the drawing (70031261-WRR2-100-003) only says that right turns out of Woodward Close will be banned.  To stop anyone trying it, the drawing shows a physical island obstructing such a manoeuvre.  The way it is positioned would permit right turns into Woodward Close.  I would therefore query whether the Design & Access Statement is correct.  Or maybe the plans are wrong?

Banning a right turn out makes sense if the signals are not there as there would be little chance to turn right due to the volume of traffic.   However, it is a major inconvenience not only for people living in Woodward Close but also for school traffic, the dementia home, and Winnersh allotment holders, as the allotments will have moved to Woodward Close from the other side of the motorway bridge by the time the Relief Road is built.  To go towards Sainsburys, all of them will have to turn left, go under the motorway bridge, round the roundabout and back on themselves.

It would have been better in my view had it been possible to design the roundabout so that Woodward Close came out directly onto it.  But I am not sure what they would have done about access to 303-317 Reading Road if that had been the design.

The motorway bridge

 In order to make the M4 bridge properly height compliant, the road surface under the bridge will have to be lowered.  Southern Gas Networks will be replacing the gas main along Reading Road in the next 15 months.  It is important that someone at WBC ensures the replacement main is buried deep enough not to be a problem when it comes to lowering the road surface.

From the drawing (70031261-WRR2-100-003) it looks as though the opportunity is going to be taken to change the odd configuration of the pavement underneath the bridge.  The drawing says the pavement will be narrowed to 3.3 m on the Reading-bound side.  At the moment there is a very wide pavement, but it has a metal railing down the middle of it, meaning that the half of the width nearest the carriageway is inaccessible and therefore wasted.

Roundabout for the Northern Distributor Road 

Green Lane has an island in front of it, restricting traffic movements.  The positioning of the island in front of the road prevents right turns out and in.  So anyone coming out of Green Lane who wants to head for Wokingham will have to turn left, go under the bridge, round the Relief Road roundabout, and come back on themselves, and anyone coming from Reading who wants to go into Green Lane will have to go round the NDR roundabout and back on themselves.

A hammer head directly off the roundabout will be provided for numbers 286, 288 and 290 Reading Road to access their properties.  There doesn’t seem to be any restriction on which way they go, as they are on the roundabout.

Sadlers Lane has a junction that comes out by, but not on, the roundabout.  There is nothing on the drawing  (70031261-WRR2-100-004) about any turning restrictions.  However, given the way the road is configured at that point (access into the BP garage and 2 lanes as you approach the roundabout from Wokingham) it doesn’t look to me as though right turns out of Sadlers Lane will work.

Reference is made in the Design & Access Statement to part time signals to address excessive queuing – “a part time pre-signal will be provided to address the excessive PM peak queueing on the west of Old Forest Road approach” but I cannot find the exact position of those signals, nor a description of when they will operate or what they are for.  I don’t actually know what a “pre-signal” is either.  I can’t find a definition which fits this context – it isn’t a railway crossing or something for buses.

Pedestrian and cycle crossings 

There are signal controlled pedestrian crossings at the junction of the relief road with King Street Lane.

There is pavement only on one side of the new road.  That is ok, as there is nothing that can be accessed on the M4 side of the road.

However, at the junction for the roundabout at the end of the relief road, there don’t appear to be any traffic signals.  Pedestrians heading for Wokingham are expected to cross the Relief Road using a pedestrian refuge.   Pedestrians will be expected to cross the Reading Road arms of the roundabout also using refuges.  There is a toucan crossing which will help for example, pupils cycling to school using the cycle route through Woodward Close and Danywern Drive.  But what about getting across the mouth of the relief road?

The other roundabout is similar – no signalised pedestrian crossing facilities.   Given the volume of traffic expected on the road and the number of pedestrians and cyclists, I am not at all happy that this is safe.

Lighting, landscaping, noise, air quality

 The street lighting looks ok.

The landscaping is not very exciting but there are some proposals to try to mitigate the loss of trees.

No noise mitigation measures appear to be included.

Air quality mitigation measures only appear to be mentioned with respect to the construction phase.

   6 Comments

6 Responses

  1. Mr Boman says:

    More ridiculous ideas from people who don’t have to use these stupid badly planned un-wanted incomplete unfinished roads. We have suffered months of nonsense (Laburnum road resident) with this unfinished traffic light fiasco. A 3 yr old child said ‘why didn’t they build a roundabout’. How can we vote the current council members out. You are all ignorant arrogant idiots.

    • Prue Bray says:

      I think what you need to understand is that almost every single decision at the council is made by the Council Executive, which consists of a small group of Conservative councillors. The rest of us get a) no more advance notice of what’s on their agenda than the public do and b) get to ask one question per meeting, submitted in advance – when there might be 15 items on the agenda. This is not democracy. The answer is to vote out the Conservatives, who are the ones making the decisions.

  2. Edward Thorpe says:

    Phase 2 Winnersh Relief Road
    Obviously those who thought up the plan to only have left turns for people living on Laburnum Road and Sandstone Close do not lure side on those roads, I thought we are in the age of trying to reduce pollution not increase it, the residents would a lot more extra miles in cars with this stupid proposal, I hope someone that is supposed to represent us listens to the residents and votes against and object.
    Edward Thorpe

    • Prue Bray says:

      I have already submitted a load of questions about the details of this application, as I am not happy about some parts of it. There doesn’t seem to be any plan to screen residents in Sandstone and Laburnum from the noise or sight of the road either. I haven’t worked out yet what the impact is likely to be on the children’s play areas off Laburnum and Dolphin. I am concerned about children’s safety having a new busy road so near, as well as the impact of air pollution and noise.

  3. Chris Elvin says:

    Many of the concerns regrading pedestrian safety could be addressed simply by opening up the northern end of Laburnum Road into Winnersh Grove. Currently there is just a brick wall separating the two and it would be easy to create a gap that is wide enough for pedestrians but not wide enough for vehicular traffic.

    The addition of a nearby pedestrian crossing at the point on the Reading Road where the footpath from Woodward Close emerges (just a few metres away from Winnersh Grove) would also make sense.

    I appreciate that this idea is not strictly within the scope of the relief road plans, but I think that it should be pursued anyway as a generally good idea

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