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Road closure plan branded as ‘absolutely disgraceful’
But county and Wantage town councillor Jenny Hannaby yesterday said she would pressurise the company to put in a temporary bridge for its project in Challow, where it has said the A417 would be shut for four months.
It is going to rebuild the Challow Station Road bridge between September and December.
The firm also said work to build a new Station Road bridge for the A338 at the Volunteer pub in Grove will begin in November and be complete by the summer, but that road will only need to be closed for an unspecified “short time”.
It is also going to close Steventon High Street from January to August next year to rebuild it. It is rebuilding 29 bridges in Oxfordshire as part of its £1bn electrification of the Great Western Mainline from London to Cardiff.
Mrs Hannaby said: “It is an absolute disgrace. They should be treating Challow exactly as they have the A338.
“It is essential that Network Rail finds a way to keep the road open.
“This is the main route to Faringdon, it is a very busy road, so this is not acceptable.”
The A417 at Challow carries an average 6,500 journeys a day.
One of those is Tish Phillips, from Faringdon, who drives over Challow Road Bridge to get to work at NFU Mutual in East Challow.
She said: “I don’t understand why they can’t use a temporary bridge.
“I would have to go a very extensive route through Goosey and Denchworth, and everyone would have to use that route so it would get very busy.
“It would be during the bad weather, and there would still be a lot of farming vehicles on the roads at that time of year.”
She sarcastically quipped: “It’s going to be great fun.”
The company said the project to install overhead electric wires will allow it to run larger, faster, more efficient and environmentally-friendly trains.
Other rebuilding projects include Denchworth Road Bridge and Circourt Road Bridge north of Grove but there are no closure dates for those yet.
Last week NR caved in to months of local pressure when it announced it would not close the A338 Station Road Bridge for six months as previously planned.
Instead the company will build a new bridge off site then close the road for “a short period” while it installs the new bridge. However it is refusing to give that a timescale.
The announcement came after a meeting with Oxfordshire county councillors, including Mrs Hannaby. She said the company promised to consult with local residents and businesses six to eight weeks before starting each road closure.
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