Highways is always exciting, it’s one of the only universal services we have and it seems everyone has an opinion, one of the issues is they often don’t agree with each other. My email and facebook messenger contains lots of communications from residents needing help to sort things out, these arrive 24x7 and I try to answer as fast as I can.
This week as you might expect flood water and traffic lights were at the top of the pile. In the background I am pushing forward our agenda of improving road maintenance and reducing congestion.
We continue to invest in new highways, paths and cycleways to deliver on our promise to make the Borough a great place to live and do business. We will spend an unprecedented £185m on the Boroughs highways and transport between 2020 and 2023 with a £124m road building programme providing relief to residents of Wokingham Town Centre, Winnersh and Arborfield.
The Lower Earley Way dualling scheme was the first of these roads to be completed in late 2019, ahead of schedule and under budget. The first section of North Wokingham Distributor Road opened in the Spring providing a link between Warren House Road and London Road and work has now commenced on the next section to relieve traffic in Wokingham town centre. Arborfield Cross relief road will open later this year complete with its off-road cycleways, green bridge and badger tunnels to protect the wildlife and extend our cycle network.
Apart from major roads we are also addressing pinch points in the network which cause congestion such as Barkham Bridge. There are small schemes being worked on as well like improvements to historic Rose Street in Wokingham Town centre to improve the pedestrian crossing point and allow us to remove the traffic island.
We are also planning to spend £16.8m on road maintenance in the period 2020-23, I recognise that a lot of our roads are nearing end of life and in response we have more than doubled maintenance spending. We have taken advantage of the dip in traffic during COVID to accelerate the works as much as possible especially on traffic sensitive routes.
Highways officers and I are always willing to talk with local people about issues and ideas they might have although this takes a bit more planning with COVID restrictions, recently that has involved visits to Wokingham and Twyford to review road congestion and parking, to Arborfield, Woodley and Earley to look at roads with particular maintenance issues, to Charvil to deal with the A4 signals together with conference calls with residents in Finchampstead.
It’s certainly never a dull moment but challenging and enjoyable when you can find a solution to a problem.