A40 improvement programme comes another step closer

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The A40 improvement programme has taken another step forward as Oxfordshire County Council has made a compulsory purchase order to assemble the land it needs for the road upgrade.

Approval is now required from the Secretary of State after a public inquiry if objections are made.

The HIF2 scheme has key improvement areas including dual carriageways from east of Witney to the proposed Eynsham park and ride site, improved shared cycle and footpaths, an integrated bus lane between Eynsham park and ride and Duke’s Cut bridges and works to the Duke’s Cut bridge.

The scheme aims to ‘resolve current severe congestion and future-proof the highway infrastructure along the A40 corridor in the long term’, said the county council.

Involving 10 kilometres of road, it will also add the capacity required for housing to be built.

Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet approved Compulsory Purchase and Side Road Orders in April to progress with the enhancements which will cost £106.7 million.

Duncan Enright, County Council cabinet member for travel and development Strategy, who has responsibility for the scheme, said: “This is a game changer for people in West Oxfordshire.

“It will offer 21st century public transport and state-of-the-art cycle lanes which will transform travel options.

“We know some detailed work is still needed (and is going on) to make sure crossings are safe and paths are easy to use and continuous. But overall this, along with the new Transport Hub at Eynsham, is very welcome and contributes to our goals of easy affordable travel for all, while reducing carbon by offering sustainable options.”

He added: ”The trickiest bit is Eynsham where it will have to work with the new Salt Cross so people will be able to cross the road to Salt Cross and back again safely. But it provides so much better cycling and bus links. As you can tell, I’m a big fan.”

The ‘smart corridor’ upgrade was proposed by the former Conservative administration, and inherited by the current county council run by the Fair Deal Alliance, a coalition of Lib Dems, Labour and Greens.

Dan Levy, county councillor for the Eynsham division, was less enthusiastic and said: “It isn’t all negative just not as good as we would want.”

He added: “The discussions about whether the A40 improvements will be effective have already been had, and we probably have to accept that it will be built. 

“I opposed the scheme from the onset, because I don’t think it will successfully shift  large numbers of people onto buses or reduce congestion, and a railway would have been better. 

“There was a lot of effort to get decent bike facilities built into the scheme, which has been mostly successful, and there is still work to do to make the crossings of the new A40 safe and direct for people on bikes and foot, including schoolchildren going to and from Salt Cross.”

He added: “There are some good aspects, like the bus lanes and improved bike lanes. But I think I said before it was a lot of money for some nicer bike lanes, moving the traffic jams a mile east, and a new bus stop for Cassington!”

And he said: “There are also some bad aspects, including the totally inadequate crossings of the A40 between Salt Cross and Eynsham, and the increased noise for the people of South Leigh.

“And it is all tied up with the other stuff happening round here –  the doubling of the size of Eynsham because of Salt Cross and the west of Eynsham development, and the Park and Ride.”

The CPO for land and new rights along and adjacent to the A40 from just west of Hill Farm overbridge Witney to east of the A34 western bypass bridge crossing of the A40 at Wolvercote and a map may be seen at all reasonable hours at Oxfordshire County Council, County Hall, Oxford, Eynsham Library, 30 Mill Street, Eynsham, and Witney Library, Welch Way, Witney.

A copy of the order and map is available online on the council’s website at https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/a40improvements

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