Reading’s biggest ever road repair programme is set to be re-profiled as a result of delays caused by the Covid-19 health emergency, but will still be delivered in full.
Earlier this year the Council announced a new £9 million investment package of newly laid road surfaces, pavements and footpaths over the next three years, with nearly 100 residential roads to be resurfaced in year one and several hundred roads in total. Work was due to begin in April with spending split evenly across the three year programme.
Restrictions put in place as part of the Covid-19 response however, and the subsequent increased number of cars parked on residential roads both day and night, made it impossible for resurfacing to begin without asking the public to move their vehicles during the lockdown. Instead work is now scheduled to start from August onwards, with exact timings dependent on Covid 19 conditions and advice at the time.
A revised programme of works will be considered at a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday May 18th. If recommendations are agreed, the Council’s overall investment in new surfaces will remain at £9 million over a three year period, but the spending would be re-profiled. Under proposals, £1.5 million of the improvement work would take place this year over a 10-14 week period before the end of October, when weather conditions deteriorate. The remaining £7.5 million worth of renewal work would then take place in years two and three of the programme.
In terms of footway repairs, the re profiled programme would see £250,000 invested in year one, with spending in years two and three increased from £500,000 to £625,000 each year. While this would support pedestrian movements, further proposals are being developed in response to the need to reallocate road space for further pedestrian and cycle space as people start to go back to work and Covid 19 restrictions are eased. Details will be published very shortly.
Preparatory pre-patching work by the Council’s Highways Team has begun with working practices in line with Government guidance, meaning the contractor can start the substantive resurfacing works quickly.
A number of options are outlines in the March 18th Policy Committee report, with officers recommending retaining the full programme but re-profiling the spend to £1.5 million in year one. The report can be found at https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s11101/Highway-Investment-Re-Profile.pdf
Councillor Tony Page, Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“The impact of the health emergency has meant an unavoidable delay to improvement works starting this year, but I would like to reassure residents that the Council intends to deliver Reading biggest ever road repair programme in full.
“The Council has moved quickly to re-profile the £9 million investment, so that the bulk of the works will take place in years two and three, whilst at the same time tackling those roads this year which are in the most urgent need of attention.
“We estimate around 50 residential roads will be resurfaced in this year as part of the revised programme. The list of roads for renewal over the 3 years will also be kept under constant review to ensure they are tackled in order of their condition.
“As part of its most recent Resident’s Survey the Council asked people in Reading what their number one priority was for improvements, and 58% said better road surfaces. Of course, we do not know if restrictions will need to return at a later stage, but for now plan to get on with the work as soon as possible.
“Further proposals are being developed in response to the need to reallocate road space for pedestrian and cycle space as people start to go back to work, and I expect to confirm those plans in the very near future.”
The Council’s £9 million investment is separate, and in addition, to repairs which take place to main roads across Reading every summer which totals £800,000 in 2020-21 and is paid for from the Department for Transport’s Local Transport Block Funding.