Improved access work to start along the A4095 in Bicester

Work is about to start on scheme that will open up a new route to benefit cyclists, pedestrians and other users along the A4095 in Bicester.

In October, work will start on the first phase of the Bicester A4095 road realignment scheme. The work, funded by Homes England and the Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal, is designed to address expected congestion between Howes Lane (A4095) and Bucknall Road, ensuring road capacity keeps pace with the housing and economic development in and around Bicester.

The new road realignment will also help to support the North West Bicester eco-town development, delivering up to 6000 much needed new homes and related community infrastructure.

The scheme has been helped with £23.5 million of funds from the £150 million Oxfordshire Housing and Growth Deal the Oxfordshire Growth Board agreed with the Government to accelerate the building of already planned housing that requires infrastructure investment to bring them forward.

The first phase of the work will be a bridge under the railway (a rail underbridge) to accommodate the realigned Howes Lane together with a separate underpass through the railway embankment at Bicester. The underpass will open a new route for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, eliminating the current obstacle of the railway embankment.

The building of both the underbridge and underpass beneath a live railway, the twin track NAJ2 Marylebone to Aynho line, is a specialist and challenging engineering project. This has been achieved through the close and collaborative working, for over a year, on design and delivery of the scheme by key partners of Oxfordshire County Council including Network Rail, Cherwell District Council, adjoining landowners and utility firm Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks.

A brief railway closure over the Easter period of 2021 has been agreed with Network Rail to allow safe insertion of the steel underbridge while minimising disruption to the public.

The work is due for completion by July 2021. Both bridges will deliver the first phase of the A4095 realignment to be followed by the roadworks to complete the scheme; reducing local traffic congestion, improving connectivity and supporting the goal to open the Bicester eco-town and its promise of 6,000 new homes.

Cllr Yvonne Constance, Cabinet member for Environment said:

“Investment in better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians along with real sustainable travel options is a vital part of our growth strategy. New homes are much needed in Oxfordshire but only in locations where they can be built with sustainable supporting infrastructure.

This work along the A4095 will allow Bicester to grow with real active travel options for future residents to enable it to be healthy and sustainable community.”

Cllr Lynn Pratt, lead member for economy, regeneration and property at Cherwell District Council said:

“The realignment of Howes Lane, and associated improvements for walkers and cyclists have only been possible because of extensive collaboration between Cherwell, Oxfordshire County Council, Network Rail, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and local landowners.

“Delivering this new infrastructure will not only ease congestion in the area but also unlock a vital parcel of land in north west Bicester, enabling the provision of 6,000 homes under the Garden Town scheme.”