Expressway Doubts

Doubts are beginning to surface over the future of the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway which could pass within a few miles of Long Wittenham.

The Transport secretary Grant Shapps is quoted as saying that the Conservatives believe in protecting the countryside and the benefits of the Expressway were “finely balanced against the costs both financially and environmental”.

One of several routes being examined is south of Abingdon off the A34 passing north of Clifton Hampden. Other possible routes are off the A34 near Botley and from the A34 north of Oxford via Bicester.

The idea behind the Expressway is to improve the road network between Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes helping to create an industrial “arch” of high-tech industries and housing.  Thousands of jobs and homes would be generated say supporters of the new road.

The Expressway is planned for completion by 2030 at a cost of nearly £4bn.  It’s reported that money earmarked for the road could be diverted to other transport projects in the whole region including the proposed East-West rail link joining Cambridge-Bedford-Milton Keynes-Bicester and Oxford.

The Oxford to Bicester section is already running but progress on the Bicester to Milton Keynes section is slow.  The stretch from Milton Keynes to Bedford has been operating for years but the route from Bedford to Cambridge is un-resolved.  The railway was once called the Varsity Line but fell victim to the Beeching cuts in the mid 1960s.

News of a likely re-think of the Expressway is music to the ears of environmental groups opposed to large scale road building schemes.  And it’s likely to receive a warm welcome from the new Liberal-Democrat and Green Party coalitions which now control both South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse District Councils.

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