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MP calls on minister to come and see A34 ring road traffic jams for himself
TRANSPORT Minister Stephen Hammond MP has pledged to visit Oxfordshire to consider how best to tackle congestion on the A34.
He made the promise on Thursday after Oxford West and Abingdon MP Nicola Blackwood said her constituents regularly suffered from accidents and delays on the busy dual carriageway.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Conservative MP Ms Blackwood asked the minister what progress he had made reducing bottlenecks in the road network.
She said: “The A34 in my constituency is still plagued by congestion and accidents.
“That causes daily misery for commuters on a personal level, and it also has a debilitating effect on the local economy.
“If the workforce are stuck in gridlocked traffic, they are simply not being productive.
“Will the minister come to Oxford West and Abingdon to meet local community and business leaders to hear their concerns first hand?”
Mr Hammond accepted the invitation, saying: “I recognise that the A34 is an important, busy and strategic route.
“We are developing route-based strategies as a key mechanism to inform what is needed on such routes.
“The ability to work with the Local Enterprise Partnership and to look at the benefits to the local economy are key assessment criteria. I look forward to visiting the constituency.”
No date for the visit has been set.
In February 2011, a £4m project to improve the M40/A34 junction at Wendlebury near Bicester, by widening the southbound exits was completed. Work could start this year on a second phase, which is expected to include widening the A34 approach to the junction from two to four lanes.
The Government has allocated £6.5m to the phase two work and Oxfordshire County Council a further £2m to increase capacity at the junction and ease tailbacks on the motorway, the A34 and A41.
It was one of the first eight road schemes across the country to be included in the Government’s pinch point programme.
Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for transport, Rodney Rose, said: “I welcome the work that’s being done at junction nine of the M40 and hope the second phase of work starts this year.
“Any improvements to pinch points on the A34 will improve the economy in Oxfordshire, and I hope further work will be carried out by the Highways Agency to improve the junctions at the Milton and Chilton interchanges near Didcot.”
The A34 is managed by the Highways Agency.
Spokesman James Wright said the second phase of work at junction nine could start at the end of the year.
He added: “With Bicester Village shopping centre nearby, we don’t want any additional hold-ups around the Christmas period. “There ‘ no work planned at the Chilton and Milton interchanges, and it’s not in the pinch point programme at the moment.”