Agenda item

Pauline Jorgensen asked the Executive Member for Planning and Highways the following question which was answered by the Leader of the Council in his absence:


Tailbacks on the A329M, caused by the new road layout, have been causing considerable delays to commuters’ journeys.  Could the Member set out what the Council is doing to help ease congestion on this road?



Tailbacks on the A329m, caused by the new road layout, have been causing considerable delays to commuters’ journeys. Could the Member set out what the Council is doing to help ease congestion on this road?



The scheme for Junction 10 of the M4 was designed by Highways England to reduce the number of occurrences of traffic queuing on the M4 – something that had been identified as a significant safety problem by Highways England and the Police.


The design for the scheme was modelled by Highways England and that design was checked by the Council’s consultants, WSP.  Both the design and the design check demonstrated the changes to the junction could be accommodated without leading to increases in delays to travellers and would be safe for all road users


Clearly the model was wrong.  The scheme has resulted in greater delays for drivers heading south towards Bracknell in the morning peak.  At a meeting with Highways England in January it was agreed that they would carry out video surveys of the junction to try to determine what the problem with the junction is.  Once we have this data we will be able to determine what can be done to alleviate the problem.  Without a good evidence base it is difficult to work out what to change that will have an immediate positive impact.  It is highly frustrating that those cameras have yet to be installed some two months later and we are continuing to apply pressure to Highways England to progress this as quickly as possible.


As with many areas of the Borough and the South East this is a peak time problem only (and predominantly only am peak).  Off peak the junction works really well.


Both ourselves and the Police are monitoring the safety of the junction following concerns raised by users.  The Police were involved in the safety audit carried out in December and we continue to keep them updated on our plans.


So can I add something in my personal capacity of Leader on this answer.  The congestion issue is not just restricted to delays on this specific road.  As residents are anticipating these delays, they are finding alternative routes and therefore adding congestion onto other roads which are already extremely busy.  I have asked officers to look at this impact as well.


Supplementary Question

The changes made to the A329M by the Highways Agency have helped sort out the queues on the M4.  Quite true, but they have done nothing to help local residents commute along the A329M to Wokingham and Bracknell or on to the M4.  Over a thousand affected residents have joined a Facebook group dedicated to fixing the A329M.  Over fourteen hundred people signed an online petition asking the Highways Agency to fix the problem they have caused.  There have been numerous reports of near misses and accidents due to the new road layout and a quick survey of users recently held indicated that many, as you say, are avoiding the route altogether and using roads through the countryside and residential areas, rather defeating the object of having the A329M in the first place.  Users commuting report having to leave significantly earlier in order to get to work on time and in the case of Bracknell commuters, the additional journey time is 20 to 30 minutes.  This design needs a rethink and recognition from the Highways Agency that moving a problem from the M4 to A329M is not acceptable.  Will he work with John Redwood, our MP, who has been very active in holding the Highways Agency to account and help to highlight to the Highways Agency the continued delays in this measurement is completely unacceptable?  Please can he make sure that the measurement when it eventually happens is not in the holiday periods.


Supplementary Answer

Absolutely Pauline, I can give you my own personal assurance because I have been taking a personal interest in this.  You will see my activity on social media.  We absolutely have to get this fixed and I too praise John Redwood, the MP, who has been extremely active and extremely helpful, but there is still a lot of lobbying to do.