MAJOR road improvements on Oxford’s ring road and in Frideswide Square will finish on time, a council boss has said, after an opposition member raised concerns.

Oxfordshire County Council’s David Nimmo Smith gave the assurance in response to concerns raised by Labour group transport spokesman John Sanders.

Work began last month to turn the Kennington roundabout into a “hamburger” design – with a lane going through it linking to Abingdon Road.

The £6m project will also create a redesigned southbound slip road on to the A34 at the Hinksey Hill interchange.

Both these projects are expected to finish in November.

But in September, the long-awaited £5.5m scheme to transform the layout of Frideswide Square, by Oxford railway station, will begin.

The first phase, from September to December, will remove two sets of traffic lights to try to reduce congestion at peak times.

Further work on the square is planned to take place from February to December next year.

Mr Sanders said it was vital the bypass work did not run past November towards Christmas. He said: “Oxford’s traffic system is snarling so of course you have to have these projects and I’m glad someone is getting on with it.

“But I am concerned that the different schemes going on in tandem are not all being managed together.

“I am not yet convinced we are thinking about this all together, as opposed to just each individual aspect.”

Conservative Mr Nimmo Smith said: “There is a lot happening in Oxford transport-wise and some of that work is going to overlap.

“We have these timescales to meet and we have to make sure we do not close Oxford down for business.

“While the works are going on it is not going to be easy for everyone – it will be challenging.”

But he added: “We are confident that the schemes can be delivered on time.”

Diversions for the Frideswide Square work were approved last week.

Traffic will be diverted along Hollybush Row, Osney Lane and Becket Street to avoid the square.

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said: “It’s difficult to know how much of a problem it will be, but we’re pretty confident this will be finished by Christmas so it won’t affect Christmas traffic too badly.

“The first stage of the roadworks should be pretty easily managed.

“They’re not major, but they are necessary things for the main works the next year.”

The finished scheme will have a large roundabout outside the station and two mini-roundabouts by the Royal Oxford Hotel.

Becket Street will change to allow two-way traffic with parking bays in the street moved to Osney Lane and St Thomas Street.

Oxford Bus Company operations director Phil Southall said: “It’s an ambitious scheme and we have been liaising closely with the county council to ensure services can be maintained. The true test will come in the new year when the project gets under way in earnest.”

Stagecoach Oxfordshire did not respond to requests for comment.

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