Council Cabinet to call for A44 inclusion in major road network plans

Motorists are set to feel the benefit as the county council fights for the A44 to be included in plans that would access million of pounds of Government investment in major routes in Oxfordshire.

The council’s Cabinet is being asked to support a government proposal to create a new ‘Major Road Network’ (MRN) similar to the old Trunk Road system – essentially a group of strategically important roads under council control that are deemed essential to support economic growth and housing delivery and reduce congestion.

By signing up to the MRN proposals money could be unlocked for route upgrades and enhancements. That could mean projects safety and capacity improvements, but there are concerns that the funding on offer may not be able to provide more major upgrades needed.

National Strategic routes like the A34, M40 and the future Oxford to Cambridge Expressway would continue to be managed by Highways England.

Call to include A44 in the network

The network suggested by the government would include roads like the A40 and A420. However the county council is also pushing for the Department for Transport to include the A44 in the proposed road network to support expected growth in jobs and homes. Other routes could also be included in future.

Opportunity for focus on intelligent transport

County Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment and Economy, said: “For Oxfordshire the Major Road Network would provide the opportunity for really busy corridors such as the A40 and A420, which we have struggled to secure funding to upgrade, to get the attention they deserve. However we also want to see the A44 included in there too.

“At this stage we are being asked for our feedback on what the Government is proposing and while we are broadly supportive we may want to push them further.

“We would also like to see more of a focus on how the MRN could help deliver more intelligently managed roads.

“Oxfordshire County Council has been working very closely with some excellent organisations in recent years on some really exciting projects which harness data and technology in ways that could really revolutionise transport in the future. We see the MRN as a real opportunity to drive this forward.”

The DfT has produced an indicative map showing a proposed MRN: http://maps.dft.gov.uk/major-road-network-consultation/

For Oxfordshire, this network includes the A40, A420, the remainder of the Oxford Ring Road, the A41 connecting Bicester to Aylesbury and the A418 linking the M40 to Thame. Much, though not all, of it is based on the former trunk roads which were transferred back to local authority control in the early 2000s – for example the A44 is not currently included.

Maintenance is not part of the MRN proposals and the arrangements for road repairs would remain as they are at present.