Segregated bus lanes are being planned along a major road in south Reading, as well as a cycle and pedestrian bridge crossing the river, in plans to tackle traffic on the A33.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) has outlined a £12 million plan for new bus lanes along the A33 and a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the River Kennet, as part of a major scheme between Mereoak Park & Ride and Reading town centre.

The scheme – the South Reading Mass Rapid Transport – aims to help with congestion, which is likely to increase due to a series of developments planned south of Reading, including 15,000 homes in Grazeley.

The South Reading MRT is the less controversial cousin of the East Reading MRT, which has been shelved for now after being rejected twice by Wokingham Borough Council.

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The project aims to speed up journey times along the busy A33 in Reading, which is the tenth most congested town/city in the UK, according to satnav company TomTom and top for economic growth.

Without investment in public transport, the council says it will not be possible to provide the level of housing growth planned in Reading, Wokingham, and West Berkshire.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Environment, Planning and Transport at RBC, said: “This is an important opportunity to secure funding for phases five and six.

“It scored highly because it is important for the future development sites in south Reading and it has the potential to be used for other purposes in the future.

“This scheme will hopefully continue to secure a high priority ranking should further opportunities arise.”

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Phase five and six includes segregated bus lanes from Island Road to Rose Kiln Lane and a cycle and pedestrian bridge over the River Kennet by Rose Kiln Lane.

The plans have been ranked second on a list of potential schemes in Berkshire hoping to receive government funding, with £10 million outlined for central funding and the other £2 million to be provided through levies on developments.

In the future, the scheme could become a guided-bus, tram or autonomous shared vehicle system, according to the council.

What has been done so far?

The council has already received £15 million in funding for parts 1-4 of the eight-part scheme, building bus lanes.

Phases one to three are complete, and include bus lanes near the Madejski Stadium, while phase four is currently being constructed on-site and includes an outbound bus lane on the A33 between Rose Kiln Lane and Lindisfarne Way.

Construction of phase four has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and works are now expected to be complete in April 2021.

What happens next?

Reading Borough Council (RBC) is awaiting government funding, which it hopes will be announced by the end of this year.

Once funding is approved for the project, the council hopes to begin construction of phase five in Autumn 2021, finishing in Autumn 2022, and phase six in Spring 2022, finishing in Spring 2023.

After that, there are two more phases which the council would need to get funding for and would complete the fast-track bus scheme.