THE closure of Reading Bridge for essential upgrades has been met with frustration from drivers and people in the affected areas.
Gas company SGN announced last month that the bridge would be closed for six weeks to ensure that the town receives a “continued and reliable gas supply for many years to come.”
However, many have said that the work should have taken place when roads were empty due to lockdown, and that not enough people are working at the site for it to be completed in the time frame.
One Emmer Green resident said: “The traffic from all the surrounding areas is unworkable – it is madness.
“The traffic is coming from all over – people from Henley and Sonning Common who would normally use the bridge but aren’t able to means the occupants of Emmer Green, Caversham heights and surrounding areas have to wait in excess of 25 minutes within their vehicles after being jammed up.
“Even today (July 16) I saw workers and it was only two men – I know things have to be done but I don’t know why they aren’t using more people to get it done quicker.
“Anyone wanting to get a bus from central Reading into somewhere like Sonning Common is having to wait an extra 20 minutes every time.”
In June, a spokesman from SGN said: “We’re working closely with UK government and public health bodies to make sure we carry out our project in line with all current coronavirus safety guidance.
“In March, we needed to pause all but emergency and safety-critical work on our network.
“As lockdown restrictions now begin to ease, we’re restarting some of our paused operations where it’s now safe to do so.
In agreement with Reading Borough Council, the project started on June 29 and will last approximately six weeks.
Many more have taken to social media to vent their frustration with the mounting traffic in Caversham.
Martin S on Twitter said: “With the closure of @Reading_Bridge for 6 weeks, traffic in #Caversham has almost reached pre-pandemic levels”, while Like said: “Yes some of the traffic on Caversham Bridge (S side) is caused by temp. Rdg Bridge closure. But you can see volume of traffic wanting to travel via #rdguk to N Reading + through to Oxfordshire. It’s time @OxfordshireCC contributed w/@WokinghamBC + @ReadingCouncil for a third bridge!”
Yes some of the traffic on Caversham Bridge (S side) is caused by temp. Rdg 🌉 closure. But you can see volume of traffic wanting to travel via #rdguk to N Reading + through to Oxfordshire. It’s time @OxfordshireCC contributed w/@WokinghamBC + @ReadingCouncil for a third bridge! pic.twitter.com/uTnJ5LPUSx
— Luke 🇪🇺 💚 🌹 (@Labour_Luke) July 6, 2020
Another said: “#Rdguk has been locked down since March, empty roads everywhere, but only NOW do the gas company start digging outside the station and close Rdg bridge for 6 weeks, just as lockdown is ending. Cue Friday carnage and back to back traffic through Caversham.”
Dave Luckett said: “Be warned, traffic in #caversham #rdguk is a nightmare due to Reading Bridge being closed. Took me ages to go down Gosbrook Rd to cross Cav Bridge.”
Richard Davies believes work should have been done sooner, before lockdown started to ease.
He tweeted: “I am very disappointed that this work wasn’t done in April @SGNgas.
“It will cause severe traffic disruption and inconvenience for drivers in #Caversham and far beyond.”
When the closure was announced last month, councillor Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s lead member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said: “The closure of Reading Bridge, which is a key route across the town and the wider region, will of course bring significant disruption to road users.
“It is essential however that access is maintained throughout for both pedestrians and cyclists and I am pleased that, following council discussions with SGN, two-way access will be maintained for both.
“It is also important to note that all road markings, including the new cycle lanes recently introduced, will be fully reinstated by SGN.
“Everybody will appreciate the need for gas mains to be replaced and it is regrettable the closure needs to take place now as shops and commuters begin to return. We appreciate that the work could not have taken place earlier in the pandemic when roads were even quieter as it is important SGN protected their keyworkers.”