Monday, July 15, 2024

Traffic filters launch now ‘in question’ due to Botley Road delays

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The major route into the city has been closed at the rail bridge since April 2023 as part of the £161m redevelopment of Oxford station.

Initially the road was supposed to reopen temporarily from October 2023 to March 2024 but delays forced Network Rail to re-think and announce the closure would continue until October 2024.

READ MORE: Botley Road will not reopen in October 

Now the rail authority has announced there will be further delays – although it has not said yet when the road will reopen due to the complexity of diverting a large number of underground utility cables.

(Image: Network Rail) Highways bosses at the county council had planned to launch six new traffic filters – otherwise known as bus gates – across the city as soon as Botley Road reopened but that decision is now under review.

A spokesman for the county council said: “The council is extremely frustrated that Network Rail is postponing the replacement of Botley railway bridge at the end of this month and is unable to reopen Botley Road in October as a result.

“The council is in discussion with Network Rail to understand the implications of this.

“Residents and businesses have shown incredible patience with more than a year of disruption to their lives because of this project, which has already had its timetable altered twice before and seen its closure dates extended.

“We have expressed our deep dissatisfaction to Network Rail and to the Department for Transport about this.

READ MORE: New Greek restaurant opens in Oxford 

“The launch of the council’s traffic filters trial planned to start in November is now in question, with various options being considered as a result.

“The trial aims to tackle Oxford’s chronic congestion problems and dramatically improve bus journey times.

“We are calling on and working with Network Rail to find an acceptable solution to this situation quickly.”

The statement added: “The council remains incredibly supportive of improvements to the rail station for Oxford with improved capacity for passengers and freight, which is vital for the development of projects such as East West Rail.

(Image: Network Rail) “In the meantime, we will continue to do all we can to work with partners to minimise the impact on the rest of the road network.”

The traffic filters, with ANPR cameras, aim to reduce traffic levels in Oxford by managing the use of certain roads by private car, and a system of permits for residents will be introduced, offering them exemptions for a certain number of journeys through the filters.

All other vehicles including emergency services, taxis, buses, coaches, all vans, mopeds, motorbikes and HGVs can pass through traffic filters at all times.

Electrical works have started near the filter points at Hollow Way, Hythe Bridge Street, St Cross Road, St Clements, Marston Ferry Road and Thames Street.

A bus gate has been operating in High Street for many years.

(Image: Oxford Mail) Graham Jones, of traders’ group ROX – Backing Oxford Business, said: “Although this continued Botley Road closure is incredibly frustrating for businesses and people living in west Oxford, if the traffic filters are delayed that’s a silver lining.

“We believe the traffic filters scheme should be scrapped but the council has already invested money in its infrastructure.

“It’s bad management – the council should have waited until it had a clearer picture of when Network Rail would be ready to reopen Botley Road.”

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

You can also read his weekly Traffic and Transport newsletter.

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