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Alongside the application for homes and community facilities, the University will also be delivering an Eastern Relief Road (ERR) road east of Shinfield. The eastern relief road will be a single, 7.3m wide, carriageway road running eastwards in an arc from a new bridge over the M4. It will pass to the north of a small reservoir to a new roundabout allowing access to the future Reading University Science and Innovation Park (SIP). From the SIP roundabout the relief road will continue southwards crossing Cutbush Lane, to a new roundabout junction with the A327 Arborfield Road, east of Parrot Farm.
The ERR will connect the Reading urban area to the north and the A327 Arborfield Road south east of Shinfield. The ERR will primarily be a single carriageway route with the exception of the proposed new dual carriageway motorway overbridge. It will also provide an early access route for the University of Reading's planned Science and Innovation Park, near Shinfield.
The new bridge over the M4 will have a span of approximately 43m and a width of approximately 24m, carrying six traffic lanes. The bridge will link the Black Boy junction to the north of the M4 with a new three arm signal-controlled junction to the south. The existing A327 Black Boy Bridge shall be closed to southbound vehicles and buses to allow its use by pedestrians, cyclists and northbound buses.
The northern section of the relief road will be on a slight embankment lifting the road by approximately 1m above the existing ground level to link to the M4 bridge. As the road arcs to the east it will be on a slight terrace above the reservoir. South of the SIP roundabout the road will be at grade with the existing ground level and then slightly below this as it approaches Cutbush Lane. Some 600m of southern section of the road, which falls within the River Loddon floodplain, will be raised by ground 2.2m above existing ground levels. The roundabout with the A327 Arborfield Road will be raised by between 0.5m and 1m above the existing levels and the area to the east and west of the new roundabout will be re-profiled to suit.
The majority of trees and hedges within the site will be retained and substantial planting is proposed within the Lane End Farm junction, to the north of the reservoir and adjoining the M4. Badger proof fencing is proposed along both sides of the relief road with a series of badger tunnels located at strategic points beneath the road. Within the southern section of the road a bat ‘fly-over’ is proposed to encourage bats to cross the road at a high level thus avoiding collisions with vehicles.
In March 2013, the then Housing Minister Mark Prisk announced £24.7m of loan funding for the Shinfield eastern relief road to be delivered early, supporting plans for the new homes and a science park south of the M4, creating 780 jobs for the first phase. Construction started in 2015 and is being managed by Swindon-based construction company Hochtief.
Construction timings are
- New M4 overbridge – January 2015 to January 2016
- Existing M4 overbridge refurbishment – February 2016 to April 2016
- Blackboy Junction – February 2015 to May 2016
- Lane End Farm / Cutbush Road – January 2015 to June 2016
- Arborfield Road – January 2016 to June 2016
- Whole of the works (road complete) – Autumn 2017
Hochtief (UK) Construction Ltd, the contractor working on the Eastern Relief Road, is taking all possible precautions to minimise traffic disruption. Please see the Traffic England website for real time traffic flow updates.
- South of M4 SDL /
- Relief Road