TRAFFIC chaos return-ed to Oxford yesterday because of a road closure which looks set to last a month.
Some drivers were reporting journey times of more than an hour to get through the city centre after George Street shut.
And one person contacted the Oxford Mail to say it took them an hour and 13 minutes in a taxi from the train station to the Randolph Hotel, in Beaumont Street, costing them £13.
A road closed sign off George Street
George Street will likely stay closed for around four weeks between Cornmarket and Victoria Court as ISG Construction Ltd carries out work on a building.
It means buses have to be diverted via Beaumont Street and temporary traffic lights are in place at the junction of Hythe Bridge Street and Worcester Street.
As a result, traffic yesterday was backing up along St Giles and into Woodstock and Banbury roads.
James Carruthers, manager of the Oxfam shop in St Giles, said: “Some of my volunteers have commented on the fact that it has taken them far longer to get in.
“One said it took her about 40 minutes to get from Abingdon Road. I walked in from Iffley, and Donnington Bridge was full.”
Tony Page, the owner of the Streat food van in St Giles, said: “It is not good that the city snarls up so easily – it ruins the whole of the morning trade for me.”
A frustrated motorist
In April, similar traffic problems were caused when Thames Water dug up Frideswide Square to remove a “fatberg” – a build-up of fat – from an underground sewer.
And motorists also suffered after roads were closed due to flooding earlier this year.
Driver Paul Snelgrove said it had taken him more than an hour to get into the city centre from Bicester.
He said: “I don’t normally come in by car, I usually take the park and ride, but I needed to park my car in the city centre. It was frustrating and painfully slow.”
James Dixon, above, manager of The Grapes in George Street, said: “We don’t know what the effect will be yet but our rubbish cannot be collected.”
Meanwhile, there were delays caused by a lorry which overturned on the A43 and a broken down crane on the A40 at Wolvercote.
After the initial four-week closure of George Street, there will be one-way traffic only for around six weeks on the same stretch of road.
To allow for this, a 24-hour clearway is being created in Beaumont Street to make way for temporary bus stops, meaning pay-and-display parking, disabled parking and loading bays will be suspended.
Stagecoach Oxfordshire said its S1, S2, S3, 14, 17 and 18 bus routes will be affected by the closure.
A spokesman for Oxford Bus Company said there had been no disruption to its services other than the expected changes on the 300 between Pear Tree and Redbridge park and rides.
County council spokesman Martin Crabtree said the traffic lights were being controlled manually but do not give priority to the buses. The lights will remain in place for the duration of the work.
He said: “We will be monitoring the traffic during the work.
“The expectation is that the traffic situation will improve over the next few days.”
He said jams were expected to ease as drivers altered their journeys to avoid the traffic.