A MAJOR £44.4m project to completely replace the Wolvercote Viaduct on the A34 near Oxford starts next Wednesday.
Wolvercote Viaduct carries the A34 Oxford Western Bypass) over the River Thames floodplain, the Oxford to Birmingham main line railway, the Oxford Canal and the A40 Oxford to Cheltenham road.
Tom Harris, Roads Minister, said: "It's good news for drivers that the Highways Agency will be able to completely replace this viaduct while keeping the road open to vehicles.
"The A34 is a key route between the Midlands and the south coast and while this improvement work is important, it's essential that any delays to drivers are limited."
In the first phase of work, a temporary southbound bridge deck will be built to the east of the existing viaduct so traffic can be diverted on to this whilst the new viaduct is built.
During this first phase, the Highways Agency said other than some overnight closures, two narrower lanes for 500m in both directions, would be kept open during the day on the A34 for the duration of the scheme.
A 40mph speed limit, enforced by average speed safety cameras, will be in place. The A40 that runs under the viaduct will have a narrower lane running in each direction with a 30mph speed limit and off peak temporary traffic lights at times. There will also be a temporary diversion of footpath and cycleway.
An agency spokesman said: "The work will be completed in a number of phases. This first phase is planned to finish in spring 2009. The new viaduct is planned to be completed in 2010.
"Although the scheme is designed to limit any delays there will be some impact on traffic flows during peak travel times and we ask drivers to look out for warning signs and drive carefully near the roadworks.
"Rail passengers using the main Oxford to Birmingham railway line will be unaffected by the works."
The Highways Agency is holding another public exhibition in Wolvercote on May 30 and 31, when the project team will be available to answer any questions. The exhibition will be held at Wolvercote Young People's Club, St Peters Road, Wolvercote on Friday, May 30, from 3pm to 9pm, and Saturday, May 31, from 10am to 4pm.
Details can also be found on the project pages on the Highways Agency's website at: http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/projects/14397.aspx