With just a few hours remaining for you to respond to the County Council's A40 consultation, County Cllr Charles Mathew has broken ranks. His own response follows in full below - don't miss the chance to have your say.
I have given long and heartfelt consideration over the last six months to the draft plans, which Oxfordshire County Council have proposed to solve the traffic problems of the A40 in both directions, to ensure that the clean air regulations are met and that the plans are sufficient to challenge the problems today and also those that some 16-18,000 new houses in Carterton, Witney and Eynsham will present between now and 2031.
I am totally unconvinced from so many angles by the Park and Ride and the bus lane on the north side of and intermittent on the south of the A40. If one adds to that the second phase of the dual carriaging to increase the existing to the proposed Park and Ride at Cuckoo Lane, I cannot help but address what alternatives could be achieved with the £91m involved which would be more effective.
My concerns are based on:
The first move in improving flow on the A40 should be to complete the link road to the A44 from Duke’s Cut prior to the A34 flyover at Wolvercote. The statistics of destination of travellers on the A40 on the early pamphlets are clearly wrong and it is fundamental that these are correct in order to reach the correct conclusions as to solving the traffic flow problems. Those approaching the Wolvercote traffic lights whose destination is the A34/A44, the M40 and the North of Oxford (Headington for instance) number in my view nearer 40/45 per cent and not the singular 11 per cent quoted. It is recognised that the cost of taking the corridor to the A44 prior to Duke’s Cut would be desirable if prohibitive in cost.
With 13,000 cars a day on the A40 and increasing, one wonders how a Park and Ride for 500 cars will have the needed effect to speed up the journey to improve it by bus transport- especially as the bus needs to re-enter the main flow of the A40 on a number of occasions.
These plans have been long in gestation and there have been many developments in the meantime, which are not taken into account and may worsen in the next five years the current chaos – not least the Garden Village north of Eynsham, the new housing west of Eynsham, both passed for building and planned for building, and the freshest, the ‘Garden Village’ suggestion for Barnard Gate- all in all some figure not far short of six thousand houses.
In order to improve traffic flow on the A40, the Tollbridge at Swinford needs to be swiftly smartcarded , consideration needs to be given to the reopening of Cassington Road from the Cassington lights (possibly to reflect the rush hour morning and the other way in the evening) and the traffic lights at Witney Road need to be removed. Each of these measures would help in small way to speed up the current journey on the A40.
Restoring Horsemere road to a bridlepath has much to commend it, but in order to lighten the inconvenience to those presently using this exit and to reduce the waiting time at the Cassington lights for Cassingtonians, a slip road needs to be built to enable left turn onto the A40 to be made from the Cassington approach- there is plenty of grass verge to achieve this.
The works on the Cutteslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts, completed early winter last year, have unfortunately been unfruitful – indeed the times for travel in the afternoon have lengthened. This was recently confirmed to me by Stagecoach bus management.
The result of my consideration of these plans leads one to come to the conclusion that however much one tinkers with the present road, very little improvement will be effected unless there is blue sky innovative solution. I believe that lies in a counter rush hour system where the direction in one lines reverses to take account of traffic flow at rush hours, like that which works so effectively in Lincoln; alternatively or in addition (with apologies to the residents of Sunderland Road) a two tier road is built from the Wolvercote roundabout approach to Rissinghurst- the top road for traffic going straight through and the lower for local traffic. Maybe the two ideas could be combined so that the top road reflects the rush hours. The excuse that funding will not be available is countered by- if you do not try, you will never achieve. In any case I know that hundreds of people would feel it is money well spent if they had to pay a toll in order to travel on the A40 without queues or traffic jams and that would be used to offset the initial cost.
The one thing I do know is that OCC cannot continue to allow the A40 to be such a nightmare journey and must adopt a realistic solution and in short measure. The cartoon of Tim Peake looking down from far off space and saying ‘All I can see from here are the traffic jams round Oxford’ must become history and sadly these plans will not achieve that, in my humble opinion.