Troubled bridge set to be replaced
Network Rail is to raise the bridge 70cm as part of the electrification of the railway line between London and Cardiff.
Work has been pencilled in to start in November 2013, however West Berkshire Council officials are in discussion with Network Rail over other alterations given the deteriorating state of the single lane carriageway and the bottleneck problems it causes to road and traffic in the nearby area.
The building of 1,500 homes at nearby Newbury Racecourse is another pressing concern.
The district councillor for Victoria, Roger Hunneman (Lib Dem), said a fix-up of the bridge had been long overdue and said his main concern was the safety of pedestrians.
“It has been a problem for a very long time. I am very concerned about the safety of pedestrians who cross it with their being no real footpath, plus you get the problem of stand-offs with traffic,” he said.
“I did get the officers to put some signs outlining right of way but I don’t think drivers take much notice.
“There are issues of land ownership as well, the problem is the bridge isn’t wide enough, and Network Rail are only obliged to replace like with like.
“It is a nasty problem; I will be pushing for the best possible bridge for my ward members.”
Mr Hunneman said in an ideal world he would like to see a two-lane carriageway crossing and proper access for pedestrians, but he admitted there were other problems to deal with.
“I thought that the issue of Sterling cables would be resolved by now and we would see a crossing point at that area of Handbridge Road but that is dragging along too there are very few points for people to cross around there, it is a real problem area,” he said.
“I would really like to hear what people think about it. Network Rail have had problems over in the east so that has led to delays so it is understandable that there will be lots of talk before action.”
The bridge would be raised approximately 70cm so that new overhead electric cables can be installed. Similar works on bridges at Aldermaston have overrun putting financial strain on nearby businesses.
Network Rail engineer Tony Walker said: “The current programme date for the replacement of Boundary Road Bridge is November 2013 and we are currently working on finalising the design.
“Network Rail spoke to West Berkshire in June about its replacement and we will look to confirm details with them in the autumn.”