Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet to decide on long-term strategy for A40

A long term strategy to tackle congestion and transform transport on one of Oxfordshire’s most important strategic routes is to be discussed by the county council’s Cabinet next week.

A long term strategy to tackle congestion and transform transport on one of Oxfordshire’s most important strategic routes is to be discussed by the county council’s Cabinet next week.

Cabinet will consider a recommendation which focusses on new dual carriageway upgrades from Witney to the new Eynsham Park and Ride as well as further bus priority lanes connecting the Eynsham Park and Ride to Oxford.

Oxfordshire County Council is currently designing and delivering a project costing approximately £40m which will see a new Park and Ride built at Eynsham and a new priority eastbound bus lane from this park and ride into Oxford funded through the Local Growth Fund.

But, while these measures will provide improvements they have always been seen as just a part of the solution and so last year the county council held a public consultation to seek views on which of several options would be the best one to focus on as an approach.

The results of the consultation have been assessed and the relative merits of the five possible solutions looked at more closely by the council’s transport planners.

The need for a long term strategy for the A40

It is has been recognised for some time that in order to meet the challenges for the future the transport infrastructure for Oxfordshire needs significant investment.

County Councillor Ian Hudspeth, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:

“Improving the A40 is a priority for Oxfordshire County Council and the work we already have funding for will be the biggest the county council has delivered.

“We understand the frustrations of drivers on this major route. As the local MP, Prime Minister David Cameron has stated in the past, ‘The A40 is the foot on the windpipe of the West Oxfordshire economy’, and so by improving the A40 this will encourage more businesses to re location to West Oxfordshire offering more jobs.

”There is also work underway right now to improve two major junctions on the A40 at Cutteslowe and Wolvercote but the A40 is a strategic problem and we have always been clear that even more will need to be done. Being clear on the solution we want to pursue gets things organised so we have a better chance at getting the funding.

“We have spent a great deal of time speaking with the public through our Connecting Oxfordshire initiative. A great many ideas and opinions have been heard and now we are getting to the stage where important decisions are being made.”

What the public told us

In 2015 the county council held a consultation event in Witney and presented the public with information on the problems and potential solutions.

The greatest level of support was for a dual carriageway option with train and bus lanes also receiving good levels of support.

County Councillor Hudspeth said: “There was a high level of interest when we held our consultation and there will be even more interest now that we are discussing a focussed plan for the long term.

“At the moment there are few transport choices West Oxfordshire into Oxford. Public transportation is limited to some rail connections or bus options which are subject to the same congestion issues as other vehicles on the A40. The only way to get to Oxford many times at the moment is to sit in congestion – that has to be tackled.

“Over 800 responses were received during the consultation with the greatest level of support being given for a dual carriageway solution. Measures to support public transport as part of a combined approach also received favourable responses.

“The recommendation in the report is an interesting one and focusses on an option that is pragmatic and deliverable. “We need to balance what people want with what we think will work and what we can get funding for. However this also has to result in a solution that really works and is achievable.

“I look forward to the debate at Cabinet and emerging with a decision that will be good for West Oxfordshire, Oxford, Cherwell and beyond.”

The Cabinet report can be viewed from the afternoon of Monday 16 May atwww.oxfordshire.gov.uk