MORE than 60,000 motorists may face three months of misery, after roundabout schemes entered their latest phase.

Commuters yesterday faced queues stretching nine miles from Oxford as far south as Milton on the A34, as cars sat gridlocked during the morning rush hour.

It came after Oxfordshire County Council warned that residents should expect “severe delays”, while it continued improvement works to the Hinksey Hill and Kennington roundabouts.

The second part of that work started on Sunday, with a 24-hour contraflow system introduced between Hinksey Hill Interchange and Heyford Hill Interchange.

The work – which it is ultimately hoped will reduce congestion in the area – is expected to last until November, the council said.

But journey times were hit with longer delays than many expected.

Kimberley Moody, 21, said her journey from Bosleys Orchard, in Grove, to Oxford, took three hours and 20 minutes.

The county council customer service adviser said: “It was a complete nightmare.

“I work from home twice a week, so may consider increasing this now, and have also thought about getting the train from Didcot.”

Other drivers coming from South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse saw huge delays.

Normal journey times of 20 to 25 minutes from Abingdon were taking between one and a quarter to two hours in some cases.

Standlake commuter Layla Mirmalek, 33, said a usually brief 25-minute journey up the A34 from Milton to Marcham was dragged out to 45 minutes.

Ms Mirmalek, who works at Aurora Fashion, said: “I was very late for work. I stay at my sister’s house in Didcot sometimes and so I was travelling to work in Stanton Harcourt. 

“But as soon as I drove up the slip road you could see the traffic jamming at the top of it. I stayed in the left-hand lane the whole time because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get to the exit I needed otherwise.” 

Alongside cars and larger vehicles, the bus companies confirmed their services were also heavily affected by the congestion. 

Oxford Bus Company’s X13, 13 and X3 services were all delayed, as well as Stagecoach’s 3, 12, 16, X30, 31 and 34 services. 

Oxfordshire Town Chamber Network director Keith Slater said the delays were likely to impact workers more than businesses. 

He said: “This will, of course, have a considerable impact on workers, as well as goods vehicles travelling around the county. 

“The main problem with these schemes when they first start is that people do not realise they are happening. Eventually after the first two weeks or so, the tailbacks should reduce as people start to plan ahead more and the peak times get spread out. 

“Businesses will complain about this and have to find ways around it, but ultimately it is workers who will have to give up more free time to leave earlier or sit in traffic.” 

The £6m improvement works at Kennington Roundabout will see it converted into a ‘hamburger’-style junction. 

A new carriageway for eastbound traffic will go through the central island while, at Hinksey Hill, a new slip road from the southbound carriageway of the Southern Bypass will be created on to the A34.

That will be widened to have a lane with no traffic lights, set to open tomorrow, which council officials say may ease some congestion.

The junction is estimated to carry more than 60,000 vehicles a day. 
County council deputy leader Rodney Rose said he expected the situation to improve in the coming days. 

The Oxford Times:

County council deputy leader Rodney Rose

Mr Rose said: “The first few days of any roadworks are always the worst, and I expect that drivers will start to plan their journeys around the route and take other forms of transport. 

“What we are doing now will mean a far better journey for people in the long term and that we will not see these kind of delays in the future as our roads carry more and more traffic.” 

Speaking on Thursday ahead of the work, county council member for transport, David Nimmo-Smith, said: “We have to deal with it and it won’t be easy.” 

He did not respond to the Oxford Mail’s request for a comment yesterday.

TRAVEL ADVICE

THE county council has told drivers that although it is monitoring the situation around the Hinksey Hill and Kennington roundabouts, there was not much it can do. 

It has instead advised people to plan ahead and allow more times for their journeys. 

But deputy leader Rodney Rose said that a newly-expanded southbound slip road from the Southern Bypass on to the A34 is expected to help. 

He said: “The works are being constantly monitored and active management of traffic signals is taking place. 

“Of course, there is only so much that can be achieved through this sort of measure. The best advice is to plan your journeys ahead.” 

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