"The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party
organisation that exists to promote the
Central Berkshire Transportation Study
Berkshire County Council Minutes:
This paper contains extracts from the Central Berkshire Transportation Study Draft Summary of Final Report, June 1996 and Volume 2 – Figures and Appendix, a copy of which is available at Bracknell Local Studies Library.
The Study contains some schematic maps showing A.M. and P.M. peak-hour traffic on major routes, with the thickness of the lines representing the volume of two-way traffic in 1995:
Several charts showed A.M. peak-hour movements to/from Wokingham town and to/from Bracknell town. The main two-way flows are shown below:
[AIM Comment: These figures are not directly comparable with those quoted elsewhere on the AIM web-site, which show total morning peak flows, covering up to 3 hours]
The Study had a pair of tables, one for Wokingham and one for Bracknell, showing the Modal Shares of journeys for 1991 and those aimed for 2015. Here is the Table for the Wokingham part of the Study area:
[AIM Comment: These Modal shifts are unachievable unless traffic can be removed from the Reading and London Roads, and unless bus competition law is amended]
The text shown below is extracted from the main document. Sections have been left out where they are not relevant to the case for or against the Ashridge Interchange and other road schemes. Elsewhere, the wording has been reproduced as in the original document, but presented in what is hopefully a more readable format.
Section 1 - Introduction
The Central Berkshire Transportation Study was initiated in September 1995 jointly by Berkshire County Council, Bracknell Forest Borough Council and Wokingham District Council. The overall aim of the study is to:
A study area was agreed [basically, the old Wokingham Borough and the Bracknell Town areas] and represents the area within which transport and land use issues have a direct bearing on the 'package area'. This is the main focus of the study and the area in which proposals are to be brought forward.
From the outset, the Steering Group has been mindful of the need to meet the Department of Transport requirements for 'package bids', which in any event describe a rational process for developing local transport plans, and which would need to be satisfied if the emerging strategy is to secure package funding in due course.
Section 2 - Aims and Objectives
The Steering Group debated and agreed a vision statement, intended to describe the local authorities' long term aspirations for transport in the area, taking into account strategic and local policies. The vision statement sets out an overall approach to the development of the transport system which embodies both underlying objectives and recognised constraints. Its aim is:
[The rest of Section 2 up to part-way through Section 8 not transcribed].
Highway and Road Management Schemes
Proposals for new road building have featured extensively in earlier transport plans for Wokingham. All proposals apart from the Reading Road to Wellington road link were rescinded following the 1989 Wokingham Transportation Study.
Within the context of the County Council's integrated transport strategy, there is little scope for proposing the construction of any new roads, but there is likely to be a continuing need for many other types of road improvement to help tackle congestion, improve safety and road layout, and complement other strategies, such as new development.
It is recognised that a significant element of public opinion in Wokingham favours some new road construction as the solution to existing and future transport problems. Whilst acknowledging the conflict between such proposals and the inevitable propositions during public consultation on the basis of a renewed evaluation.
Three 'old favourites' have therefore been re-examined to gauge the extent to which implementation would contribute to the overall strategy (Ashridge Interchange, Wokingham Southern Bypass, and a South-western bypass of Bracknell).
In addition, concerns have arisen within Bracknell and Sandhurst Councils over delays in reviewing the Sandhurst-Crowthorne Link Road, and an initial appraisal of this scheme has also been undertaken.
This proposal seeks to re-establish a connection between the A321 north of Wokingham and the A329(M) motorway. When, in 1971, the A329(M) was first constructed as a motorway connection to the new M4, it terminated at a junction with the A321. In later years the connection was removed when the motorway was extended to Coppid Beech.
There are, in fact, operational difficulties associated with the proposal. Although the A329(M) is a County Council motorway and hence not subject to the minimum interchange spacing which applies to trunk motorways, the proximity of the M4 interchange near Winnersh raises problems over slip-road operation. It is doubtful whether a satisfactory scheme could be devised to overcome these difficulties. However, proposals to declassify the section north of Loddon Bridge to accommodate a bus only lane could involve a rethinking over the function of the A329(M) and provide opportunities to utilise the road in a different manner, such as the introduction of a high occupancy vehicle lane, or for it to have a local rather than inter-urban function.
The traffic assessment of the morning peak hour indicates that Ashridge Interchange would attract around 100 additional vehicles through Wokingham, and transfer some movements onto other routes. Some journey lengths would be shortened.
[The following roads] would all experience a reduction in traffic flows:
Traffic flows at Winnersh crossroads would also fall.
However, any gains would be overturned by overloading on the A321 Twyford Road notably south of the interchange, with traffic flows increasing by almost 160% to 2,300 vehicles per hour, and junctions along its length becoming congested.
Major increases in traffic flows would also occur along
[Comment from AIM: The estimated traffic flows were shown in a separate briefing document shown only to the CBTS Steering Group, but not to others on the Planning & Transportation Committee]
The development of Ashridge Interchange could strengthen the case for further development and road improvements, such as between the A321 Milton Road and the A329 Reading Road. This would allow a greater dispersal of traffic from the A321 corridor, and bring greater relief to the Matthewsgreen area. However, some residential areas would experience an increase in noise. The scheme would cost at least £2 million to construct, and would not attract public funding. On balance, the proposal is not recommended.
[Comment from AIM: The analysis is very light on actual flows and possible savings. A proper published study would need to quantify these much more rigorously. This detail was available only to the CBTS Steering Group, but if properly debated, it would probably have tipped the scales in favour of recommendation.]
Wokingham Southern Bypass
Regarded as a possible alternative to the abandoned Wokingham Inner Distribution Road, the Southern Bypass has been resurrected recently in a developer's proposal encompassing major new housing provision of 825 units. Assessed in isolation, the route has the potential to attract around 500 vehicles per hour from Peach Street in the morning peak, offering the possibility of a one-lane reduction in traffic through the shopping area if overall levels could be reduced by about 10%.
The new route would be relatively lightly loaded, offering the potential for further traffic growth and would certainly counteract mode shift objectives in relation to traffic originating in southern Wokingham unless:
Furthermore, the road would be situated in an area of local landscape and recreational importance. In addition, it would not be eligible for government support through the TPP [Transport Policy & Plans] process, even if sufficient funds became available in future years, because the impact is local rather than strategic. Consequently, alternative funding mechanisms would need to be found to implement such a scheme, for instance through a private finance initiative or developer funding.
The proposal is not recommended as a free-standing scheme.
Sandhurst-Crowthorne Link Road
The preliminary analysis of the Sandhurst-Crowthorne Link Road indicated that the scheme provides little traffic benefit to the Package Area, and net dis-benefits arise primarily due to adverse environmental impacts. The link crosses a significant Site of Special Scientific Interest which has been proposed for an European Special Protection Area designation. A wider review of this scheme by the County Council is programmed for Autumn 1996.
South-western Bypass of Bracknell
A scheme to provide a south-western bypass has been re-visited as a significant problem arises for Bracknell by the manifestation of congestion and delays arising from a mixture of through and local traffic. The highway network is heavily dominated by south-east, north-west traffic movements [sic], with many trips passing through the study area from the M3 along the A322, through Bracknell and long the A329(M) to Reading or the M4.
In order to account for this dominant movement affecting both Bracknell and Wokingham town centres, there may be scope to consider a new link between the A3095 and the A329(M) in conjunction with modifications to Nine Mile Ride between the A322 and the A3095. This would create a direct through-route from the M3 to the M4 and Loddon Bridge area, and would encourage through trips with similar destinations to move from the local network onto the new road freeing space for alternative operations, such as the introduction of extensive traffic management measures in and around Bracknell and Wokingham. It would also allow the bottleneck at Twin Bridges, Bracknell to be overcome and provide a direct link to any proposed new rail station to the west of Bracknell. It also provides opportunities for the introduction of an orbital bus route at a later date, and for the reversion of the link to a high vehicle occupancy or public transport corridor in the longer term.
The scheme would nevertheless be environmentally intrusive and could counteract the study objectives. In addition, the problem is of regional significance and would require a more detailed evaluation of the corridor in conjunction with the surrounding local authorities in an attempt to reduce the level and attractiveness of the route to the car driver.
The local authorities will reject proposals for major highway schemes where they fail to meet the objectives of the study by counteracting mode shift goals, diminishing quality of life indicators and causing net environmental degradation. The results of preliminary investigations as part of the Central Berkshire Study find that four schemes fall under this category, namely:
Several road schemes are partially completed or about to be implemented including the Bracknell Northern Distributor Road and its associated schemes and the A329 Reading Road to Wellington Road link in Wokingham. Given progress on these schemes and the need for these projects to support other proposals, such as housing development, congestion relief, and the relocation of Wokingham rail station it is considered that such schemes should continue. Other schemes may also assist wider strategies and an extension to the Bracknell Northern Distributor road has some merit if it could be linked to other traffic generation arising from proposed housing or other development to the north and north-east of Bracknell. A transportation study or monitoring will be required to verify this need.
A number of highway schemes should continue or be considered where they support other proposals, such as new development, congestion relief, environmental improvement, and safety:
Traffic management measures could include the signalisation of all the roundabouts in Bracknell and the introduction of an Urban Traffic Control system (UTC) plus a SCOOT system in Wokingham. Priority routing using new technology and selective detection, as well as speed management are other possibilities to overcome speed and rat-running issues, to smooth traffic flows and to reduce pollution.
Other road based measures should be directed at getting the best from the existing road system, by improving road layout, overcoming safety concerns, and easing congestion. Schemes considered are those costing more than £50,000, although it is realised that there are a number of others of lesser amounts which would contribute to the same objectives. These lower priced schemes are considered matters for the Area Highway Sections to progress.
The local authorities should seek the best use of existing roads by improving the road network and implementing approved schemes:
Conflicts between users and impediments to access are major features of Bracknell and Wokingham town centres. There is need for more direct and easier pedestrian access, and rebalancing of road space dedicated to pedestrians suggested by way of environmental improvements to decrease air and noise pollution, improve road safety, and diminish the dominance of the road. These, in turn, should enhance the attractiveness of the town centres.
The local authorities will seek environmental enhancements to the town centres of Bracknell and Wokingham, along The Ring, Bracknell and in Peach Street / Rose Street / Broad Street, Wokingham.
Integration of Land use and Transport Planning
There have been past failures to adequately address [sic] the link between land use, transport and travel. This is slowly changing as current central government policy guidance begins to take effect, but other opportunities exist. For instance, by introducing best practice, identifying locations accessible to public transport for the siting of new development, negotiating planning agreements to include facilities for transport users, cyclists and pedestrians, and ensuring parking provision is minimised in favour of essential users, and visitors.
Greater use should be made of land use planning to curtail car-based developments with more developer funded / private finance initiative schemes geared to non-car based activities. The latter could potentially be a source of revenue for the area.
The local authorities will continue to integrate land use and transport planning through the development control mechanisms, and seek to locate new development at public transport accessible sites, where possible, and ensure negotiations take account of public transport, cycling and pedestrian needs and to provide facilities to meet their requirements.
[End of extract]
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