"The Ashridge Interchange Movement ('AIM') is a non-party
organisation that exists to promote the
News Item: Council Question
Public Question Time, Wokingham District Council Meeting, 30th March 2006:
Steve Bacon asked:
In late 1970, when the Inspector gave his recommendations on the building of Phase 2 of the A329(M), he said: "It would be premature to go on with the Ashridge or any other interchange between Amen Corner and A321, before carrying out a full investigation of the road and traffic situation in Wokingham and neighbourhood, taking into consideration the by-pass and other matters mentioned at this Inquiry."
The Transport Minister John Peyton, announcing his judgment on the building of the A329(M) in 1970, said that: "A decision on the need for an interchange on the line of Scheme 2 should be deferred until a thorough study of the transport needs of the area has been carried out, and that the scheme and Orders should be modified so as to delete the Ashridge Interchange from the new route".
Has a traffic study specific to the Ashridge Interchange been carried out, and what were the conclusions?
Councillor Anthony Pollock replied:
"A briefing note was prepared by Babtie, in 1996, for the Central Berkshire Transportation Study Steering Group considering the feasibility and impact of the Ashridge Interchange.
"The conclusion of this study was as follows:
'It would not be possible to construct an interchange immediately between the A329(M) and the A321 Twyford Road without violating Department of Transport guidelines. It is recommended by the DoT that motorway intersections should not be located within 1km distance of one another, and it is desirable to have a minimum of 2km between intersections. This is to avoid the duplication of interchanges to serve similar locations, and to allow vehicles to travel at the design speed of the road and improve safety.'
"It is recommended that proposals to develop Ashridge Interchange should not be pursued further. In order to design a scheme to comply with Department of Transport guidelines and which would be safe, significant construction costs and environmental impacts would result. Such a scheme is unlikely to justify the expenditure of public money in terms of increased accessibility. The design of an interchange which departed from technical standards is not recommended on safety grounds.
"If an interchange was introduced significant traffic impacts occur on roads between the Ashridge Interchange and Wokingham Town Centre which the local highway network would not be able to support without additional upgrading, resulting in net environmental damage.”
I am not aware of any further studies that have been conducted since this time.
"Further to your supplementary question at Council regarding the Ashridge Interchange.
"As you are aware in the 1960's the County Council had responsibility for the Highways so this information may not be easily found. We have searched our own archives which go back to the mid 1990's but have found no evidence suggesting we hold traffic counts for the late 1960's.
"We will endeavour to locate the information but I cannot guarantee this. I will respond in due course when our research is more complete."
In the meantime, an interesting document surfaced. It was a Briefing Note to members of the CBTS Steering Group, but which had not been seen by Steve Bacon, who was then Chairman of Wokingham District Council's Planning and Transportation Committee. If it had been seen at the time, events might have turned out quite differently.
The CBTS Briefing Note attempted to prove that if Ashridge Interchange were opened, overall mileage would INCREASE, which is a logical impossibility, given that it would cut three miles off the journey for anyone wishing to reach the M4 from Shute End. Had this document been more widely available in 1996, the figures would have been challenged at the time.
This Briefing Note has now been transcribed, with additional notes, and you can get a copy by clicking here.
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