THE OPENING of one of the first new distributor roads in the borough has been delayed yet again, meaning it will open almost a year behind schedule.
The Shinfield Eastern Relief Road was due to open last summer but a series of delays have seen the date pushed back.
Now, another series of setbacks – including a groundwater problem affecting road stability – means that, although there is still no firm opening date for the road, the contractors are planning for a spring finish.
In a statement, Hochtief highways director Dan Wiscombe said: “We understand that the delay to completing the Shinfield Eastern Relief Road is extremely frustrating for the local community, businesses and road users and we apologise for any ongoing inconvenience this is causing.
“We have brought in significant extra resources to address these issues and are committed to ensuring that the project is finished as soon as possible given the challenges faced.”
The company said that the challenges include cold weather, drainage problems and unforeseen issues with the handover process.
Now Hochtief are bringing in additional staff which they say are experienced in specialist excavation techniques and will help get the work finished.
The statement ends: “The programme has now been revised and work is due to be completed in Spring 2017. As soon as we are in a position to do so, we will publicise the road opening date.”
The challenges according to Hochtief:
- An unforeseen ground water issue at the northern end of the relief road has affected the stability of the road construction, meaning that the road is unsafe to traffic until this issue is resolved. After thoroughly investigating the issue, an additional 570 metres of drainage is being constructed. Extra resources have been brought in to ensure the drainage installation process is as fast as possible.
- Planned work at Arborfield Road (A327) required extensive changes such as flood resilience re-modelling. This has resulted in a new road alignment, embankment height and an increased length of surfacing to join the new road to the existing road, which have all required additional de-sign work, consents and planning permissions.
- Exceptionally cold weather delayed some of the works which involved concrete and surfacing activities.
- Quality issues arising from unforeseen events during the handover and sign off process, which need to be resolved prior to opening the road to ensure that safety and highways standards are fully adhered to.
Wokingham Borough Council’s executive member for highways and transport, Cllr Malcolm Richards said the road couldn’t be opened until all of the problems had been addressed.
He said: “We share the public’s frustration with the delay for this scheme. We’ve raised our concerns with the University of Reading and its contractor Hochtief, who are delivering the project. This has led to them increasing their resources to tackle the outstanding work around Arborfield Road, Shinfield Road and the Black Boy Roundabout.
“We do not have control over the contract. Our input is solely as a highway authority. We review and challenge the construction methods of a third party while the road is being built to make sure the finished highway meets the quality benchmarks needed before we can adopt it. We have the long term interests of our residents and commuters in mind to ensure standards are maintained and disruption is kept to a minimum. We are working with Hochtief and the University of Reading to get the project finished and open.
“With a complex project like this there are always unforeseen problems. Current issues include water seeping up through the surface of the relief road. We cannot allow traffic to use this new section until we are absolutely sure this has been fully addressed.
“When the final resurfacing of Arborfield Road is done, work will concentrate around Shinfield Road, with the new relief road then opened.”