Residents of Oxfordshire and beyond can look forward to better connections into Oxford as County Council plans to accelerate A40 improvement including a new park and ride at Eynsham as part of the Science Transit 2 (ST2) scheme for the A40.
Officers at Oxfordshire County Council are seeking approval to submit a full and final business plan to the Department for Transport for the scheme now that new funding has been secured to complete it. This is the latest in a series of plans to invest over £600 million in the county’s infrastructure over the next four years, helping to create and support jobs, develop the local economy and encourage sustainable modes of travel.
The final ST2 project plan makes improvements on the original, including bringing forward the delivery of the park and ride part of the project. The details on the plan are included in a new report to the county council’s Cabinet on 15 December.
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Councillor Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment said: “The plans are to accelerate aspects of the ST2 scheme as part of a comprehensive range of schemes the council is developing to enable a sustainable and green economy, especially as the county recovers from the pandemic.
“This scheme will help deliver real and positive impacts on the lives of local people. It will allow residents to adopt environmentally responsible forms of travel with a particular emphasis on bus transit, as well as a much-improved cycling and walking infrastructure. The ST2 and Housing Infrastructure Fund 2 (HIF 2) schemes for the A40 will offer people a rapid means of travel along the route which with the combined benefits of cleaner air, active travel and reduced congestion.”
The ST2 project was awarded a provisional allocation of £35m from the government’s Local Growth Fund, subject to the submission of an acceptable full business case being submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) as well as a minimum of £5m matching local contribution.
The goal of the ST2, alongside the other complementary investments along the A40, is the development of additional highway space, connectivity and infrastructure to encourage a shift to more sustainable forms of travel. This will allow Oxfordshire County Council to meet its zero-carbon transport network aims.
ST2 will be built to provide a congestion-free route into Oxford from the west for public transport and to the new science park planned for West Oxfordshire. In turn, this, and associated improvements in public transport, will encourage a transfer of trips from private transport to bus, reducing overall congestion levels on the A40 for all vehicles.
The core parts of the scheme include:
Bringing forward the construction phase of the park and ride site will reduce the construction phase traffic on the A40. It will also allow risks around the diversion of high-value utility infrastructure to be more readily controlled and mitigated.
It also demonstrates the council’s commitment to external funders to the delivery of the wider A40 investment package.
As part of plans to accelerate the A40 improvement scheme, the Council is also considering a possible integration of the ST2 scheme and parts of HIF2 which will not only provide time-saving and reduce highway network disruption but also provide cost efficiencies. Oxfordshire County Council is undertaking work to investigate this opportunity, due to be completed in early 2021.
The good news for Oxfordshire is that additional funds have been granted to meet the higher than expected costs. This includes a £3m City Deal match funding grant from the government, secured by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership OxLEP and £12m from the Oxfordshire Growth Board.