The latest section of a major road that will serve planned new homes in Wokingham town has opened.
A ribbon was cut at the Eastern Gateway, part of Wokingham Borough Council’s South Wokingham Distributor Road, by staff and pupils at the neighbouring Floreat Montague Park Primary School.
Both the school and new road, which includes an off-road cycle path to encourage active travel, are among the new infrastructure for the authority’s major development of 2,500 new homes at South Wokingham, which was agreed under its current Local Plan.
The latter was funded largely through developers’ contributions with additional funding from by the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.
A safe, sustainable route for everyone
The Eastern Gateway links William Heelas Way, which runs through the community’s Montague Park area, with a new roundabout on the other side of the railway at Waterloo Road.
It includes a new bridge to replace the Waterloo Road level crossing, which is permanently shut now that an alternative route is available. Balfour Beatty, the council’s project partner, expects to finish landscaping within the next two months.
Construction began last summer and the new roundabout and drainage ponds were finished over the winter, before Balfour Beatty began linking the new road and bridge.
When it opened on Monday, 24 January, the primary school’s pupils visited to learn more about the project and its benefits.
They met Balfour Beatty representatives, the Mayor of Wokingham Borough, Councilllor Keith Baker MBE, and Councillor Pauline Jorgensen, executive member for highways and transport.
Minimising congestion and improving air quality
Cllr Jorgensen said: “I’m delighted that the latest phase of our ongoing efforts to keep traffic in the borough moving is now open to all road users.
“Once the project is completed it will minimise congestion by not only creating extra capacity on our network, but by improving access for more environmentally-friendly forms of transport through a safer railway crossing.
“As well as keeping disruption to a minimum, this will help residents to live healthier and more active lives while improving the borough’s air quality and reducing carbon emissions.”
Cllr Baker said: “It was a real pleasure to meet the headteacher and some of his pupils, and I’m pleased that the school takes such an active interest in the wider community.”
The bigger picture - and the next steps
The scheme is part of the council’s £250 million major new roads initiative, which is funding multiple new roads and other improvements as part of its Local Plan.
The South Wokingham Distributor Road will include a new central section running westwards from the Waterloo Road roundabout and across Easthampstead Road to join Finchampstead Road near the Tesco superstore, with an improved junction at Finchampstead Road and Molly Millars Lane.
Meanwhile the project's counterpart, the North Wokingham Distributor Road, is almost built with only the final sections to the west of Old Forest Road, at Toutley Road and from Bell Foundry Lane to Warren House Road due to open to traffic this summer.
Under the current Local Plan, development has also funded the Shinfield Eastern Relief Road, built in partnership with the University of Reading, the Arborfield Cross Relief Road, which the Department for Transport also funded, the Winnersh Relief Road, and the extension of Nine Mile Ride at Arborfield and Finchampstead, which will finish soon.
Cllr Baker added: “These are just some of the benefits of our strategic approach to development, which is set to provide a total of £1 billion in community infrastructure.
“By planning new communities from the ground up, we can ensure they’re served by new roads, schools, green spaces, leisure centres, sports facilities and more, while ensuring developers pay for it.”
To find out more, visit our Major New Roads page or read our in-depth articles on our Building Communties the Wokingham Borough Way page.
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