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The first major road works - under multi-million pound expansion plans for Reading Station - get underway.
Major works to re-organise traffic flows around the town centre to enable the planned improvement and expansion of Reading Station to go ahead will begin on Monday 21st June.
The proposed new Reading Station southern concourse ties in with Network Rail's multi-million pound upgrade of rail lines into Reading which will eventually see more trains, more passenger capacity, reduced delays and less overcrowding.
With a much-improved new station building extending across Station Approach and including a large pedestrianised area, Station Approach - currently used by buses, taxis and cycles - will be closed. This means roads around the station need to be reconfigured with bus, taxi, cycle, coach and drop-off interchange facilities in the area re-organised.
This work has been planned over four phases to try to minimise town centre disruption as far as possible.
Roads affected will include:
- St. Mary's Butts
- West Street
- Friar Street
- Station Road
- Station Approach
- Blagrave Street
- Valpy Street
- Forbury Road
- The Forbury.
Substantial improvements, including wider pavements, re-surfaced roads and improved pedestrian crossing facilities, will form part of the scheme.
Richard Willis, Lead Councillor for Strategic Planning and Transport at Reading Borough Council, said: "This is an exciting time for the people of Reading with the major works for one of the largest rail improvement schemes in the country getting underway. However, this will entail some short term disruption in order to deliver the longer term benefits for all users of the station. I ask local people to bear with Network Rail and the Council as we work together to minimise disruption and maintain services, while delivering this massive expansion of capacity at Reading Station."
The changes to the traffic system itself will not take place until the end of the project when all the correct infrastructure and facilities are in place.
Work begins in St Mary's Butts on Monday June 21st and will see adjustments to the road layout to prepare for the changes to traffic flows which come at the end of the scheme. This will also include improved pavement surfaces, road surfaces, street furniture and new bus stop facilities. This phase of the work is expected to run until the end of July.
Phase 2 of the scheme, in Friar Street (west) and Station Road, will then begin. This phase runs until mid-September and will again involve changes to the road layout to prepare for the changes in traffic flow, with improved road and pavement surfaces and new bus stops, shelters and street furniture.
In November, the same sort of improvement works will continue in Phase 3 in Friar Street (east) and Valpy Street before the project moves into Phase 4 and to Station Approach and Blagrave Street where again the road layout will be adjusted, pavement and road surfaces improved and new bus stops, shelters and street furniture introduced.
The town centre project is scheduled to be completed by May 2011.
A series of drop-in events and exhibitions took place in summer last year, and then again in the Autumn, where residents and businesses where invited to come and view the plans. Reading Borough Council intends to continue to listen to feedback as the works progress with a view reducing impact as far as is possible.
A drop-in centre will be open throughout the course of the project at 6 Cross Street where people can view plans, look at the works programme in detail and ask any questions they may have. Opening hours are 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
The contractor awarded the works is Bardon Construction and the Council has insisted on several restrictions being put in place during the works so as to not interfere with the many events like the Reading Festival, as well as during the busy Christmas period.