THE latest phase of an important engineering project to strengthen the Kennetside retaining wall is now complete.
Around 50 metres of the wall near the Fisherman’s Cottage pub has been repaired and strengthened. It is the third phase of the Council’s on-going programme of work to strengthen a 1.3 kilometre stretch of the Kennetside retaining wall, which supports the scenic pedestrian and national cycle route between the Thames and Reading town centre and nearby residential properties.
The wall is now more than 125 years old and has significantly deteriorated in parts, leaving some underground sections vulnerable to ingress of water from the river. The deterioration shows up with the formation of small scour holes on the canal side pathway and cracking and minor subsidence. In recent years, reactive maintenance works have involved filling the holes with concrete and reinstating the foot/cycle way surfacing.
The Council began its long-term programme of strengthening works in 2011, prioritising stretches in the worst condition first, according to budgets available. The first phase involved strengthening 60m length of the wall near Patriot Place and replacing the 420m long deteriorated guardrail between Blakes Lock and Kings Bridge. This phase was completed in 2012. For the second phase, 88m length of the wall at Kennetside (near Sidmouth Street), was strengthened in 2015.
The latest phase, near to the Fisherman’s Cottage pub, involved excavation of a trench behind the existing retaining wall structure and the installation of concrete between the existing timber piles, infilling the trench with 1.5m wide and 1.8m deep mass concrete and connecting it to the existing capping beam with steel dowels to form one structure. The works were completed by reinstating the foot/cycle way surfacing.
Tony Page, Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“These strengthening works will increase the life of the 125 year old retaining wall and mean it will be able to safely support pedestrians, cyclists, emergency vehicles and nearby properties for many decades to come.
“Pedestrians and cyclists were diverted along Orts Road for the duration of the works and we thank regular users and nearby residents for their patience whilst this important project took place. We will now look to identify and progress further phases of the strengthening works as and when budget becomes available.”
The Council’s structures programme includes proposals to strengthen further sections of retaining wall along Kennetside over the next few years, including a section near Watlington Street, a section near Sapphire Plaza between Watlington Street Bridge and Kings Bridge, and the section between Cholmeley Road and the Thames.