Ashridge Interchange  

The Ship Inn from London Road, with Peach Street to the left

Market Place and Broad Street from Cockpit PathShute End looking northwards, with The Terrace on the right

   "The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party organisation that exists to promote the
   best possible traffic solution for Wokingham for the least overall environmental impact."

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Letter to Wokingham Times, published on 8th March 2006:

'Let's look at the Ashridge Scheme'

It has been pointed out that the Department for Transport wouldn’t sanction a new motorway junction within a mile of an existing one, thus preventing any consideration of the Ashridge Interchange as an answer to our chronic traffic problems.

For more than 30 years, sectional interests have tried to suppress this as a possible solution to Wokingham’s traffic problems. The case in favour needs to be heard, which is why a non-party group has set up ‘AIM’, the Ashridge Interchange Movement.

We can easily counter the argument that the Interchange would be too close to Junction 10. Why not make some of it an integral part of Junction 10? The southbound slip road for the M4 (West) could split into two, with one branch passing over the two southbound slip roads from the M4. Traffic for Ashridge could then split off before even reaching the main A329(M).

We appreciate there’s been a problem in finding a route between the Interchange and the Reading Road, but we see no reason why a direct route can’t be built in tunnel under Cantley Park to emerge on council-owned land opposite the proposed junction for the Station Link Road. Tunnels are used extensively in continental Europe; why not here?

Furthermore, the Station Link Road can be split into two, one part passing over the railway by a bridge to join Oxford Road at the Station Industrial Estate, thus eliminating the need for a level crossing.

Existing junctions on the A329(M) are simply too far away for most users. To take an example, it is 5.3 miles from Shute End via Winnersh to a point on the M4 bridge on the A329(M). It is 5.1 miles from Shute End via Coppid Beech to the same location. A more direct route via the Ashridge Interchange would be less than 2 miles, saving at least 6 miles a day for thousands of commuters.

Let’s consider Mr. (or Ms.) A, living at Woosehill for 20 years and commuting daily via the M4. In that time, he/she will have travelled 26,000 miles more they need have done. At 40p a mile, this works out at over £10,000 – enough to buy a new car. Allowing 10 minutes extra each way, the time spent sitting in jams on the Reading Road is equivalent to a whole working year. We are prepared to offer a bottle of Champagne to the first person who can identify themselves as this hapless commuter, but there wouldn’t be much to celebrate.

Savings are similar or even greater for commuters living on Barkham Road, or in Emmbrook near the Dog & Duck, or in Wiltshire Road. Based on figures from the 2001 Census, we reckon that people are spending at least £5 million more a year between them because the Ashridge Interchange doesn’t yet exist. If the scheme including tunnel costs around £20 million, it will effectively pay for itself in 4 years – or much less.

Traditional cost/benefit analyses also include time saved because of lower congestion. Think of the queues on the Reading Road, London Road and in the town centre that would diminish if the scheme went ahead. Less easy to quantify in money terms, but just as real, is the reduction in noise and improvement in air quality. Taken together, these make a compelling case for the DfT to fund the Interchange.

We deserve a permanent solution to our traffic problems. That’s why it’s a scandal that the Transport Appraisal published in November 2005 didn’t even mention Ashridge as an option, especially since the council has an outstanding obligation to have done so (see our web site ‘ashridgeinterchange.org.uk’ for full details).

Steve Bacon
Melrose Gardens
Arborfield.

 

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