Level crossing misery could be over after Station Link Road approvedBy Laura Herbert
January 23, 2013
A multi-millon pound scheme to ease ‘chaos’ at one of the town’s worst bottlenecks has been given the green light, despite fears for cyclist and pedestrian safety.
The level crossing at Wokingham Station has caused gridlock and misery to drivers every time the barriers close for decades.
But plans for a Station Link Road between Reading Road and Station Road were given unanimous approval by Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee last Wednesday.
The road is part of a two-phase scheme, including a new-look railway station further from the level crossing and a transport interchange.
Stephen Reed, station link road project manager, said: “Something has to be done at the level crossing.
“The key aspect of this scheme seeks to alleviate the chaos around the level crossing every time the barriers close.
“By providing the new through road we feel we have demonstrated we have made the traffic movements around this area significantly better now and, more importantly, in the future.
“The layout of this scheme provides new ways to access the station and car parks from Reading Road. No longer would every car, pedestrian and cyclist be concentrated close to the level crossing.”
But fears were raised about a shared cycleway and footpath running along part of the new road where it is not wide enough for a segregated route.
John Griffin, of the Wokingham Society, told the committee Department for Transport guidelines suggest a segregated cycle and footway should be favoured.His concern was shared by a number of committee members, particularly as the pavement narrows from 3.7 metres wide to two metres at one point.
Ward councillor Chris Singleton suggested the council look at a compulsory purchase to buy land to expand the width of the pavement where it narrows.
Fiona Cross, chair of governors at Walter Infants School, said: “We are concerned about works traffic using Oxford Road during times children are going to and from school.
“We ask the committee to ensure a ban on HGVs is placed on that road from 8.15am to 9.15am and from 3.15pm to 4.15pm.”
Mr Reed agreed to impose a permanent ban on HGV works traffic using Oxford Road. He added: “I will not say this scheme is perfect, very few are. They are always a compromise of competing issues.”
Work on the link road is expected to start in the autumn.