A major new road being built to serve new homes and relieve congestion in Wokingham town is almost complete after the penultimate sections opened to traffic on Monday afternoon (9 May).
The new 1km carriageway to the west of Old Forest Road, which runs from the A329 Reading Road roundabout to a new junction with Old Forest Road, is part of the North Wokingham Distributor Road along with a newly upgraded stretch of Old Forest Road and Toutley Road.
Both were built by Wokingham Borough Council’s contractor Balfour Beatty, whose works included installing a new 45m bridge crossing the railway line off Old Forest Road and realigning part of the existing Toutley Road to include an improved crossing over the Ashridge Stream.
Benefits for all users
This new section of the distributor road has an off-road cycle path to encourage active travel, improve local cycling and walking links and reduce the number of vehicle journeys on the wider network. The infrastructure is funded by contributions from developers building new housing in the borough.
The works also created a new green space with hundreds of new trees at Old Forest Meadows, which is already open to the public. It includes a 1.7km circular footpath walk along the Emm Brook with benches to sit and enjoy the area.
Several road closures were needed throughout the project, including a full closure of Toutley Road for much of last year, although every effort was made to keep inconvenience to a minimum.
A complex project
Trevor Saunders, assistant director for planning and delivery at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “Many thanks to our in-house project team and the team at Balfour Beatty for their hard work in completing this technically complex project.
“We know there was some disruption locally while the work was carried out, so we’d also like to thank anybody who was affected for their patience and understanding. Now that it is complete, we hope our residents and businesses will see the benefits for many years to come.”
Chris Hall, portfolio director for Balfour Beatty, said: “We’re incredibly proud of our teams, who worked determinedly over many months to make this a reality and the results speak for themselves. This new section of road will be a major asset to the community, as is the beautiful nature park which has been created alongside it.”
The final steps to come
The North Wokingham Distributor Road will run from the A329 Reading Road to the west of Wokingham town, near the M4 overbridge, to the A329 London Road in the east, near Coppid Beech roundabout, and also includes Queens Road, Bell Foundry Lane, Diamond Jubilee Way and Oak Avenue.
The only remaining section is a 550m stretch between Bell Foundry Lane and Dalley Road, which also includes a 4.5-hectare open space with two ponds, footpaths and wildlife habitats.
Work on this, also carried out by Balfour Beatty, finished last year although it isn’t ready to open due to the high volume of construction traffic from new homes being built on an adjoining section of the road. The council is working closely with the developer to confirm an opening date and will announce this as soon as possible.
Seeing the bigger picture
The North Wokingham Distributor Road is part of the council’s £250 million investment in new roads as part of its current Local Plan and it is also investing in congestion-cutting measures like “smart” traffic lights and electronic message signs warning of upcoming delays.
It also promotes more active and sustainable forms of travel through its growing network of cycle and footways, as well as greenways linking its major new communities, improvements to public transport infrastructure and campaigns to encourage alternatives to driving.
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