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Double traffic trouble in store
TWO major road schemes in Oxford are set to clash after a roundabout blighted by a one-year hold-up was struck by further delays.
A planned ‘hamburger’ roundabout at Kennington has been held up, as Thames Water needs to divert a water main before construction work can start.
But the latest delay means that construction on the £6.4m roundabout scheme is not expected to be started until June.
Transport bosses hope work will be finished by the end of November.
But this means a potential three-month clash with the £5m project to revamp Oxford’s Frideswide Square, due to start this autumn, causing fears of traffic disruption for commuters.
County council leader Ian Hudspeth said he could not provide a guarantee that the two projects would not overlap. He added: “We will endeavour to get the best results for the highway users of Oxfordshire.”
Two years ago, the county council announced the plan to upgrade the Kennington and Hinksey Hill roundabouts, following the success of hamburger roundabouts at Green Road in Headington and at Heyford Hill.
Work is now due to take place at the Kennington roundabout, but the diversion of a large water main is causing months of delays.
Graham Jones, spokesman for traders’ group Rescue Oxford, said: “You should not have work at the roundabouts overlapping with work at Frideswide Square – it could cause serious traffic congestion.”
The hamburger scheme was previously held up because council officers were securing City Deal funding from the Government, which can be used to fund major transport schemes.
The county council’s cabinet member for transport, David Nimmo Smith, said the council wanted to finish the roundabout work by the end of November.
He added: “The Kennington work will cause some traffic displacement, but we will try to programme work so we don’t end up with added congestion.”
Deputy leader of the county council Rodney Rose said: “We want this work out of the way because we do not want it to be going on when work is done at Frideswide Square.
“The Thames Water work has delayed us but this is not a blame game.”
Thames Water needs to divert the water main beneath the Kennington roundabout before beginning construction work to convert it into a hamburger design, with traffic running through it, as well as around it.
The conversion, which could take more than six months to complete, is being held back until Thames Water has finished.
However, the utility company cannot say when their work will be completed.
Thames Water spokesman Becky Trotman said: “Our work to divert a 24in water main is taking longer than expected as we have discovered that we also need to carry out some work on a valve, which controls the flow of water.
“It is vital that we plan this work very carefully to avoid any interruption to our customers’ clean water supply and this is why there has been a delay in us finishing this job,” she added.
“We’re continuing to work closely with the council and meet with them regularly to update them on our progress.
“We’re also working on a revised plan and will be sharing this with them as soon as we can.”
County council spokesman Martin Crabtree claimed problems at the Kennington roundabout would not lead to the Frideswide Square revamp being delayed.
He said: “Thames Water started the diversion of the mains pipe in January and this work was due for completion in April.
“We are in regular contact with Thames Water and have been very clear that we want to start our work as soon as possible.
“We will be meeting with Thames Water again very soon once we have a revised programme from them for the completion of their diversion works, to look at ways of overlapping our works in order to minimise delays to our scheme.
“We are working on the assumption that we will be able to start on site during the first half of June.”
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