South Reading Mass Rapid Transit – Phase 2
The South Reading Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project will provide a series of bus priority measures on the A33 between Reading Town Centre and the Mereoak Park & Ride facility south of the M4 Junction 11. The scheme is set to reduce congestion and journey times and improve public transport reliability on the main corridor into Reading.
The scheme, which is included within the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Growth Deal, is set to improve access to Reading from the south – specifically the A33 corridor, which connects the town centre to the major employment locations, the M4 and major housing developments. It will increase overall trip capacity and reduce congestion on this key transport corridor.
The A33 corridor carries high volumes of traffic between the M4/A33 and town centre providing access to over 50,000 town centre jobs. The route is also the main access for the major south Reading employment area of 10,000 jobs and 1,600 homes. The A33 is busy throughout the day, but particularly during AM and PM peak periods when employees arrive and leave the business units and park along the corridor and when there are high levels of traffic into Reading town centre.
Reading Borough Council and the business parks along the A33 have made significant investment in expanding the bus services along the corridor, delivering high-quality, low noise and low emission bus services (approximately 600,000 trips per annum). The current level of congestion has resulted in the need to add extra vehicles during the peak periods and reduce the peak period frequency to offset the impact of high journey time variability. These services would benefit from this scheme through reduced journey times and enhanced reliability.
Construction work on the project began in May 2017 and was completed the first week of December.
Speaking to Premier Construction about the project, Mike Browne from Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd, Nick Emmott Dart and Simon Earl from PBA and Stephen Wise from Reading Borough Council, told us:
“The project involved the removal and reconstruction of the existing footways, kerbs and gullies; the installation of additional drainage and the diversion of utilities. It also incorporated construction of a 12 metre reinforced concrete extension to ‘Courage’s Culvert’; Installation of over 300 metres of precast concrete soil dowels, relocation of the ‘Central Reserve’ to the North of Bennett Road Gyratory and the upgrade of all Street Light heads to LED lights.
“The project was not without its challenges. One of our client’s main priorities was to minimise disruption to traffic. The relocation of the Central Reserve (one side of which was moved halfway into one of the northbound lanes) took careful planning, coordination and cooperation between subcontractors. WBCEL were praised for this as they managed to undertake the complex work with minimum disruption to traffic flow.
“Equally challenging was the construction of the culvert extension, which was not without its water management complications. We were heavily reliant on accurate weather forecasting to avoid a flooding situation during critical operations.”
The scheme is a long established element of Reading’s strategy to deliver economic growth and housing and was included in Reading’s three Local Transport Plans and Core strategy.
Mike Browne from Wills Bros Civil Engineering added: “Reading South MRT was a typical type of project for our company considering our wealth of experience in Street Works projects. It has been a pleasure to work with Reading Borough Council and their consultants Peter Brett Associates. This was our first time working with these organisations and we are grateful for the opportunity to show that we can deliver a project like this on time and to such a high standard.”
Wills Bros Civil Engineering Ltd is a diverse civil engineering contracting company. Their success has been the result of their experience as main contractors in the execution of both large and small contracts across a varied spectrum ranging from major motorway contracts, road realignments, landfill sites, marine works, site developments, water related services, telecommunications and the leisure/public amenity sector.
The South Reading Mass Rapid Transit project was split into two phases with the total scheme costs for phase 1 and 2 totalling just over £5 million; including 30% contingency derived from detailed project Quantified Risk Assessments.