Once complete, the widened bridges will provide space for two lanes of traffic, a cycle path and pavements, eliminating a notorious bottleneck for motorists in the town.
The work is part of Network Rail’s plans to improve Reading’s railway. The new bridges on Cow Lane provide space for a new track layout through the Reading station area, boosting capacity and improving reliability of train services on the Great Western Main Line.
Bill Henry, Network Rail’s project director for Reading, said:
“Our work in Reading isn’t just about improving the performance of the railway and building a better station. The changes we’re making to Cow Lane will bring big benefits for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, cutting congestion and making the road safer.”
The southern bridge over Cow Lane, nearest the junction with Salisbury Road, will be widened this Christmas, with the road opening for use at the beginning of 2012. Work on the northern bridge will be completed in 2015 in order to fit in with Network Rail’s wider programme of improvements to the railway.
Network Rail say they're doing everything it can to minimise disruption while the work is carried out, however there will be times when the project team will need to close Cow Lane. From 10pm Friday 6 May until 6am Monday 30 May, Cow Lane will be closed between the Cardiff Road junctions and the Safestore access road, with traffic diverted via Oxford Road and Caversham Road.
This follows an initial weekend closure of Cow Lane in March, with a final closure required in December to allow for the widening of the first of the two bridges.
Mr Henry continued:
"This is a big engineering project and we’re making every effort to minimise its impact on residents and businesses in the Cow Lane area. Working with utility companies so they can do their work at the same time will help us get the job done as efficiently as possible. We recognise that our work in Reading over the coming years will have an impact on people who live and work in the town. We’re planning our work carefully to minimise disruption and we’ll make every effort to keep you informed when our work will impact you."
The Cow Lane improvements are part of Network Rail’s wider plans to improve Reading’s railway. The station will be expanded with the addition of five new platforms, a new footbridge and two new entrances and the track layout is being transformed with a new viaduct to take mainlines over slower lines, boosting capacity through Reading.
Local residents can find out more about the improvements at a public exhibition later this month. Network Rail’s Reading project team will be available to answer questions and talk to people about the project at Reading station and the town hall from 19-21 May.