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Town centre bridge to close in two weeks

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Park Way bridge will close on March 7, while changes will be made to Newbury's pedestrian zone timings ten days later

NEWBURY'S long-suffering motorists will soon have an early evening rush-hour route through the town centre, although there may be further traffic woes first as a busy town centre bridge closes in just under two weeks time.

From Thursday, March 17, the pedestrian zone in the town will change from 6pm to 5pm, allowing motorists to drive through the town centre an hour earlier than usual as West Berkshire Council aims to improve rush-hour traffic flows.

However, motorists could endure ten days of mayhem beforehand as the Park Way bridge, which is currently open to southbound traffic, will be closed to all traffic from Monday, March 7, to allow Parkway's contractors Costain to undertake road improvement works, lower the carriageway to the entrance of the new car park and create new bus and taxi ranks ahead of the scheduled opening of the mixed-use retail and residential project in October.

Subsequently, the pedestrian zone changes, which it had been agreed would come in as part of a new traffic system when Parkway opened in October, with only buses, taxis and cyclists able to use the bridge in both directions under traffic signal control, have now been brought forward.

West Berkshire's executive member for the Newbury Vision, Pamela Bale (Con, Pangbourne), said: “As it has become necessary to close Park Way bridge (which is currently used by southbound traffic), we are bringing forward the change in pedestrian zone times to help compensate.

“To comply with traffic legislation, March 17 is the earliest we can do this.”

However, general manager for Kenikabs Taxis, Bill Annetts, said this was another “big error” by the non-drivers in Newbury, adding that he could see major problems with drivers not reading signs and getting stuck in Park Way itself.

Meanwhile, no reply has yet been received from Parkway's developers, Standard Life Investments (SLI) as to why the bridge will close before the pedestrian zone changes were introduced.

However, it has been confirmed that Park Way itself will remain open at all times while the bridge is closed, with full access for vehicles using the Camp Hopson car park, businesses in Park Way and for deliveries by service vehicles.

Current town centre paving works should be finished by March 7, according to the district council, although the council said these will be completed after Park Way bridge re-opens if they are not.

Meanwhile, SLI said road diversions would ensure the current build up of traffic on Park Way, up to London Road, would be significantly reduced.

SLI added that the road works would be closely monitored and a traffic light system would be put in place to ensure tailbacks do not occur, together with clear signage to ensure everything runs smoothly.

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