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Ash Road Bridge Plans Approved

Our plans to improve safety and reduce congestion at Ash Station by building a new road bridge and later a foot bridge to replace the level crossing were last night (Wednesday 6 January) approved by our Planning Committee.

The level crossing has been identified as a safety hotspot by Network Rail, who support plans to close it. The number of trains passing through Ash, and therefore the number of times the crossing is in use, will increase this year, with extra services to Gatwick Airport, Reading, Redhill, Guildford and Farnham.

Lead Councillor for Major Projects, Cllr John Rigg says: 

"I am very pleased that this important infrastructure project has been approved. We received some very positive contributions from residents in our public information sessions last year, and there will be further opportunities for participation and feedback as we progress through the planning process. 

"The new road bridge, and planned footbridge, provides badly needed infrastructure investment following regeneration of the area, especially the arrival of new housing. The plan is to make the area safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and less congested for drivers whilst also improving air quality. The crossing barrier is currently down for up to 25 minutes every hour, and barrier downtime will increase in line with the expected increase in train services. This has a huge impact on local residents, especially as cars often queue for long periods with engines running."

Work is continuing on the project, and although we would not normally lead on a highways infrastructure project of this nature, we are liaising closely with both Network Rail and Surrey County Council.

Data from the Safety Management Information System for Ash level crossing shows that there were 28 incidents at the crossing between 1 January 2014 and 21 January 2019, with a further six near misses reported since then to the end of 2020. Other unrecorded incidents are also reported by the station staff and signalling team.

This road bridge will provide a long-term solution for the area, which would otherwise experience ever-increasing congestion and safety issues as new homes are built. It will connect the Guildford Road / Ash Hill Road roundabout, which will be expanded to allow access to the new Ellsworth Park development, to a new roundabout at the junction of Foreman Road and Vyne Walk.

This will also benefit residents and those travelling in the area by providing a safe place to cross and significantly reducing existing congestion and over-use of surrounding roads as alternative routes.

The A323 will be re-routed along Foreman Road, with the existing junction replaced by a bend. A 30mph speed limit will be introduced along a section of Foreman Road from The Croft to the junction with Guildford Road, along with traffic calming measures on Grange Road.

Two bus stops on Foreman Road and Ash Church Road will be given step-free access, with new shelters and passenger information displays also installed.

Significant numbers of trees and hedgerows will be planted, and filter drains and areas of wet grassland created as part of the project. The bridge's planted embankments will protect wildlife habitats and increase biodiversity. The project is also likely to ease flood risk in the area. 

Before the construction of the road bridge can begin, reports on landscaping, conservation, biodiversity, wildlife, lighting, flood mitigation and drainage will be produced. 

Pedestrians and cyclists will also be able to use the new road bridge. The current crossing will remain open until the foot bridge is finished. 

We are supported by a grant from Homes England's Housing Infrastructure Fund in addition to S106 developer contributions. We expect the road bridge to open in 2023. 

Published Thursday 7 January