Cow Lane One-Way Northbound Only from Dec 11th

ACCESS under Cow Lane bridge will be northbound only from Monday December 11th and for the duration of Network Rail’s improvement works.

The Council and Network Rail are changing traffic flows under the bridge in response to lengthy delays already experienced by road users since the start of the carriageway realignment works earlier this month.  The change is needed as queue lengths and delays would otherwise worsen significantly as the works area for this major phase of the Network Rail scheme increases.

From 6am on Monday December 11th, a new one way restriction will be in place under Cow Lane Bridge. This will allow traffic to travel in a northbound direction only. The change means the temporary traffic signals positioned on the approach to Cow Lane bridge will be primarily green for northbound traffic, resulting in significantly reduced waiting times. A red traffic signal would only be triggered for a short periods where vehicles need to exit either the Network Rail depot or the SafeStore Self Storage warehouse.

Southbound traffic approaching Cow Lane bridge from Richfield Avenue will instead be diverted at Caversham Bridge roundabout southbound along Caversham Road, the IDR and Chatham Street, or along Castle Hill, Tilehurst Road or the Bath Road. Advanced warning notices advising drivers of the closure will be in place throughout the wider area from this week.

Access for pedestrians and cyclists is being maintained under Cow Lane bridge in both directions.

The temporary one way restriction for vehicles will remain in place until July 2018, when Network Rail will have re-aligned the road into the new tunnel and when users will – for the first time – experience two-way traffic under Cow Lane bridge.

Delays to drivers approaching Cow Lane bridge, from both the north and south, have been caused by only one lane of traffic being able to pass under the bridge, and past the works site to the south, at any time. The distance between the two sets of temporary lights – almost half a kilometre long – has meant lengthy waiting times on either side of Cow Lane bridge. Traffic jumping red lights due to the long waiting times has added to disruption, particularly when vehicles were exiting both the Network Rail Depot or SafeStore.

The agreed diversion for southbound traffic allows displaced traffic to remain on A roads. A northbound closure would have seen traffic diverted onto a combination of A roads and residential roads.

Network Rail and the Council also considered 4-way traffic signals along Cow Lane (at both north and south approaches and for exits from Network Rail’s Depot and Safestore) but this would have resulted in waiting times of up to 5 minutes for a green light, adding to disruption and delays.

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“Cow Lane is a key strategic location on Reading’s road network. Managing restricted traffic movements through the duration of Network Rail’s works was always going to be a significant challenge.

“By changing access under the bridge to one-way northbound only, we remove the need for half a kilometre of Cow Lane to be under temporary traffic signal control, which is the main cause of the delays we have seen in both directions. It means the temporary traffic light on the northbound approach will remain primarily on green, significantly reducing the delays drivers have been experiencing.

“The change does of course mean a diversion for southbound traffic along Caversham Road, the IDR and Chatham Street, or Castle Hill, Tilehurst Road or the Bath Road.  This traffic will remain on A roads, which is preferable to potentially pushing displaced traffic onto residential streets if the Cow Lane closure was in a northbound direction instead.”

Cllr Page added:

“In the long run Network Rail’s improvements works will bring major benefits to Reading’s road network.  Cow Lane will become an important alternative route for lorries, commercial and other traffic which are just passing through west Reading, resulting in a safer and more pleasant local environment for residents and businesses along the Oxford Road. It will mean double decker buses will be able to cross Cow Lane for the first time, speeding up journey times for passengers. When the scheme is complete, it will also mean traffic lights will no longer be needed through the bridges, with a new and safe route for both pedestrians and cyclists.”

Shyam Samani, project manager for Network Rail, said:

“We hope to see improvements to the delays that motorists have been experiencing  with the new traffic management system at Cow Lane.

“In addition to this, the changes to the current traffic management system will improve safety for those leaving SafeStore and the nearby GWR and Network Rail depots, and will improve access for our contractors, enabling them to complete this work safely and efficiently.”

Oscar Mortali

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