Work to Start on Next Phase of A33 Mass Rapid Transit

PHASE 2 of a major scheme to speed up bus journeys along the A33 will get under this week.

The first section of the South Reading MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) project between the Imperial Way (Tesco) roundabout and M4 Junction 11 was completed in December 2016.

Work on the next phase, on the southbound carriageway between Kennet Island and Imperial Way, is due to start today (Monday 10th April) and off-peak lane closures will be introduced later in the month.

The scheme aims to improve bus services to Mereoak Park and Ride, Green Park and Madejski Stadium without losing any road capacity for other vehicles.

Contractors Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd will be setting up their compound from Monday 10th April and construction work will start shortly afterwards.

The 36-week programme will include off-peak south-bound lane closures between Lindisfarne Way and Imperial Way, from 9.30am – 3.30pm, Monday to Friday from 24th April.

All lanes will be fully open for both the morning and evening peak periods. Some weekend working with temporary lane closures is also expected.

Any weekend working will not be scheduled on days Reading FC are playing at home and works will be suspended during Reading Festival.

Contractors are planning to carry out the work in sections and bring new areas of bus lane into service when they are available, rather than open the whole completed stretch at the end. Information messages for drivers will be displayed on VMS signs around the town.

The works for this phase of the scheme are due to be completed by the end of November.

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

“I welcome the start of the next phase of works on the South Reading MRT which aims to improve journeys for bus passengers without taking away any capacity for other road users.

“South Reading is continuing to grow, with more housing being built and more businesses opening, and it is vital that we provide a public transport system which is reliable and efficient for residents and workers in the area.

“The A33 is one of the busiest commuter routes in Reading and, even with works restricted to off-peak periods, there will inevitably be some disruption and congestion. People who use the A33 during these hours should be aware of possible lane closures and allow extra time for their journeys.”

The estimated £5 million cost for Phases 1 and 2 of the South Reading MRT  is being funded externally, through Reading Borough Council’s successful funding bid to the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Local Growth Deal, and through private sector contributions. This money is ring-fenced, which means it cannot be used to pay for any other Council services.

Phases 1 and 2 of the Council’s scheme, from M4 Junction 11 to Island Road, were granted funding approval from the Berkshire Local Transport Body in November 2015. This followed the completion of the full business case which confirmed that the scheme represents ‘very good’ value for money, in accordance with Department for Transport guidance.

Future phases of the South Reading MRT scheme (Phases 3 & 4) have been included in the LEP’s bid to Government for Growth Deal 3, and awarded provisional funding subject to confirmation of a full business case.

These phases include provision of an inbound bus lane between the A33 junctions with Longwater Avenue and Island Road, and further outbound bus lanes between the A33 junctions with Rose Kiln Lane and Lindisfarne Way (Kennet Island).

David Millward

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