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Fears grow six-month road closure will ‘cause traffic chaos’
THE A338 from Wantage to Oxford will close for up to six months next year amid fears of “traffic chaos”.
From February 10, 11,600 journeys made every day on the road will have to use an alternative route, yet to be decided.
The road will be closed for Network Rail to raise the Station Road bridge at the Volunteer pub by several feet for its electrification project.
Oxfordshire county councillor for Grove Zoe Patrick said: “It will be absolute chaos.
“The problem is trying to get the bus services to continue running and get people to their destinations in Oxford.
“It will mean traffic chaos at a time of year when the weather can be bad anyway.”
The next quickest route to Oxford or Abingdon will be by taking the A34 at Didcot.
Grove Parish Council member for transport, Jean Nunn-Price, said: “People are already saying it is difficult to countenance such a thing.
“It gets so congested around Wantage the moment anything is closed.”
Oxfordshire County Council confirmed it has received plans from Network Rail to close the A338 for six months.
Spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “We are considering the application and will speak to them to see if alternative options can be investigated.”
He also revealed that the council was hoping to create pedestrian footways on the bridge at the same time.
Network Rail spokesman Kate Snowden said: “The exact timings, details and length of the closure of the bridge is yet to be decided.
“Our contractor has identified additional strengthening works. We want to find a solution that creates as little disruption as possible.”
The work is part of Network Rail’s £1bn electrification scheme, installing overhead wires to power trains on the Great Western main line from London to Bristol by 2016.
A total of 27 bridges in the county will need works.
The closure will require Stagecoach to re-route three bus routes that carry hundreds of people to Oxford daily.
Stagecoach business manager Karen Coventry said: “In preparation for the bridge closure, we are working to come up with the best possible solutions for passengers on our 31, 34 and X30 routes.
“Details will be made available once this has been agreed.”
Grove parish council was last night due to meet a Network Rail official for the public to ask questions.
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