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Council cannot predict when roads will reopen
7:00am Friday 10th January 2014 in News
THERE were no answers last night on when two major roads would reopen as flooded Oxford suffered another day of traffic misery.
While Botley Road and Abingdon Road stayed shut down, the A34, A420, A40 and A44 were again swamped with motorists queueing to get inside the city.
Train passengers were also hit as services between Oxford and Reading were cancelled – with commuters advised to take a London train via Banbury to get to the city.
Last night, commuters were urged to work from home or use park-and-ride services as more than 20 county roads remained closed off.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth warned of further disruption because the flood waters may have damaged the roads.
But the Conservative refused to comment on how much the work could cost.
He said: “If the foundations beneath the roads are being eroded then we will need to look at repairing them and that could cause some major problems.
“Until the weather subsides and we see the damage, we won’t be able to give any estimates.”
Commuters yesterday reported journeys of more than three hours from south of Abingdon to Oxford and bus journeys of an hour to get from Summertown to West Oxford.
Train passengers also reported trips of more than two hours to get into the city from Didcot.
The Seacourt Park-and-Ride site remained shut yesterday and council transport boss David Nimmo Smith encouraged drivers to only make necessary journeys into the city.
Council spokesman Paul Smith said he could not say when the Botley and Abingdon Roads would reopen.
He said: “We’re very keen to be able to open Abingdon and Botley Roads.
“It is a case of watching and waiting for the waters to recede and moving in to re-open as soon as it is clear and safe.
“We can’t predict when that will be.”
Zoe Patrick, Liberal Democrat opposition leader on the county council, said the council was in a much better position than when major flooding last hit in 2007. She said lessons learnt this time should mean better preparations next time.
But she said: “We have seen unprecedented rain and there has been a wake-up call to all local authorities to get their act together. I am hoping because of this things will get better.”
Oxford East MP Andrew Smith said Oxford’s flood protection was inadequate and backed calls for a £160m water relief channel to divert water from the city.
He said: “It is clear in the light of this flooding it needs to be looked at again as a matter of urgency.”
Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron is today due to visit Bablockhythe to see flood damage for himself.
Yesterday he said his Government would now review the capability of flood defences and flood response agencies.
He said: “Whenever there is flooding it makes sense to look again at proposals in the programme for flood defence work to see what more can be done and this will happen.”
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