Councillor Tony Page said there is a lot to be done if the much-needed project is ever to get carried out
A Third Thames Bridge is seen as vital to improving Reading’s terrible traffic problems.
As Reading Borough Council revealed its latest plans to reduce pollution and improve traffic around the town, the bridge over the River Thames was back on the agenda.
But the project relies of the support from neighbouring councils and Reading’s transport boss says although there are some encouraging signs, it could be another ’20 to 30′ years before it is built and ready.
The bridge is one of a number of measures contained in the authority new Local Transport Strategy.
Talks over the project date back to the 1920s but they have always been scuppered by Oxfordshire County Council, which has dug its heels in over the amount of traffic the bridge could divert down the country roads around the county.
Reading Borough Council’s argument is that many people live in South Oxfordshire and drive into the town centre to work.
This puts enormous pressure on the existing bridges.
Where are talks over the bridge up to?
The latest set of talks are ongoing, but there has been a slight shift from Oxfordshire’s councillors.
In September 2019, a motion from Councillor David Bartholemews, who represents the village of Sonning Common – one of the villages Oxfordshire believes could be badly hit by the extra traffic – was approved.
It said: “They [Reading] recognise that the bridge would have a substantial impact on the Oxfordshire road network, but blithely state this will be dealt with by unspecified and uncosted ‘mitigation measures’.”
Leader Ian Hudspeth has since written to the leaders of Reading, Wokingham and Bracknell councils, as well as Henley MP John Howell, Wokingham MP John Redwood, Reading East MP Matt Rodda and Maidenhead’s MP Theresa May.
The letter states “In the context of the Climate Emergency a car-based solution to a car-based problem that would pour thousands of cars and HGVs into Oxfordshire is totally inappropriate and should a new bridge be built it should be restricted to public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.”
What does Cllr Tony Page think about this plan for the bridge?
Councillor Tony Page, Reading’s lead councillor for transport, said the idea of a pedestrian bridge was “unrealistic” but said he was encouraged Oxfordshire had shifted slightly away from its previously policy of total refusal.
However, he accepted that the much-needed project is a long way from completion.
He said: “We have a lot of support.
“Maidenhead MP Theresa May is very keen on the idea, and both the Reading MPs also support it.
“There’s some way to go.
“We have put in a bid to central government for £800,000 for the latest business case.”
He added Reading is working with Wokingham Borough Council on the project, and stressed the two authorities “need Oxfordshire on board” if the project is going to happen.
How long will it take?
He said: “You’re looking at a five to six years build, once this whole process is finished.
“With the best will in the world, you’re looking at 20 to 30 years.”
Where would the bridge be and how much would it cost?
If it was to get built the bridge is likely to be between the Thames Valley business park near Reading and land near Playhatch in Oxfordshire.
The most recent estimated cost was £110 million.
What else is the council doing to tackle the town’s traffic problems?
The new bridge is just one of a range of radical measures aiming to improve both traffic and air quality in Reading, Berkshire.
- Charging drivers for using Reading as a short cut
- A work place parking levy
- More public transport routes
- Orbital routes and park and rides in North Reading
- More electric car charging points
The new plan is set to go out for public consultation and can be found here
News from Berkshire Live