Road chaos alert as bridge is closed

StJohn Dickson fears the worst over the impending closure of the A417 Challow Station road bridge

StJohn Dickson fears the worst over the impending closure of the A417 Challow Station road bridge Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

SOME 6,800 drivers between Wantage and Faringdon have been warned to expect driving “chaos” for 13 weeks from Saturday.

Network Rail will close the A417 Challow Station road bridge until mid-December to rebuild it as part of its £2bn electrification project of the Great Western main line.

Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338.

Their cars will join the 13,000 daily journeys already made on the A338 between Wantage and Oxford.

Vale of White Horse District Councillor for Children and the Challows, StJohn Dickson, predicted “nightmare” conditions for drivers.

He said: “Until people experience it, once the schools have gone back and we have all the chaos, we don’t know how bad it will be.

“The attitude from Network Rail is that people will find their own way.

“We know the bridge has to be rebuilt, it’s just very unfortunate we didn’t manage to get any form of replacement.

“The view now is just ‘get it done as quickly as possible’.”

Residents and businesses who need access to their properties will be able to use smaller side roads.

These will be subject to weight restrictions preventing vehicles such as HGVs using them, although exemptions will apply for local access.

Network Rail is rebuilding or modifying 29 bridges in the county to make room for new overhead electric wires.

The rail infrastructure firm says electric overhead lines will allow it to run larger, faster, more efficient and more environmentally-friendly trains.

The first road closure, Fulscot Road Bridge at South Moreton, near Didcot, began in November last year and was doubled from six months to a year due to “ongoing design issues and weather”.

This will be the second. Rebuilding the A338 Volunteer Bridge at 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”, the company said.

Despite an online petition against the A417 closure signed by 1,000 people, Network Rail said no alternative plans were considered.

The firm will, however, build a temporary bridge for pedestrians and cyclists for the duration of the works.

Senior programme manager Nigel Fenn, of Network Rail, said: “We are working closely with Oxfordshire County Council, local parish councils and other key stakeholders to minimise this disruption and I would like to take this opportunity to thank people in advance for their patience.

“This is an exciting time for the Great Western main line as we upgrade and electrify the route to transform our diesel railway into one of the most modern in Europe, providing passengers with more seats, faster journeys and cleaner, quieter trains.”

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Comments (7)

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1:31pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Neonlights says...

"Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338. "

And what happens if and when there is an accident on either the A338 or A420 (or both)? Where does the traffic go to divert the accident?

The relevent authorities should have done more to stop Network Rail getting their own way and a better thought out plan draughted up.
"Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338. " And what happens if and when there is an accident on either the A338 or A420 (or both)? Where does the traffic go to divert the accident? The relevent authorities should have done more to stop Network Rail getting their own way and a better thought out plan draughted up. Neonlights
  • Score: 0

1:58pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Neonlights wrote:
"Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338. "

And what happens if and when there is an accident on either the A338 or A420 (or both)? Where does the traffic go to divert the accident?

The relevent authorities should have done more to stop Network Rail getting their own way and a better thought out plan draughted up.
It's only HGVs that have the lengthy diversion. Local traffic can re-route over nearby bridges.

It's funny how Wantage and Faringdon residents are aghast at the prospect of HGVs taking a lengthy diversion away from villages whereas residents of Weston on the Green are aghast at HGVs taking shortcuts.
[quote][p][bold]Neonlights[/bold] wrote: "Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338. " And what happens if and when there is an accident on either the A338 or A420 (or both)? Where does the traffic go to divert the accident? The relevent authorities should have done more to stop Network Rail getting their own way and a better thought out plan draughted up.[/p][/quote]It's only HGVs that have the lengthy diversion. Local traffic can re-route over nearby bridges. It's funny how Wantage and Faringdon residents are aghast at the prospect of HGVs taking a lengthy diversion away from villages whereas residents of Weston on the Green are aghast at HGVs taking shortcuts. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 1

2:06pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Neonlights says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
Neonlights wrote:
"Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338. "

And what happens if and when there is an accident on either the A338 or A420 (or both)? Where does the traffic go to divert the accident?

The relevent authorities should have done more to stop Network Rail getting their own way and a better thought out plan draughted up.
It's only HGVs that have the lengthy diversion. Local traffic can re-route over nearby bridges.

It's funny how Wantage and Faringdon residents are aghast at the prospect of HGVs taking a lengthy diversion away from villages whereas residents of Weston on the Green are aghast at HGVs taking shortcuts.
I didn't realise that commuters and parents drove HGVs.

The report says that everyone bar pedestrians and cyclists will have to take the 24 mile diversion, not just HGVs.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Neonlights[/bold] wrote: "Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338. " And what happens if and when there is an accident on either the A338 or A420 (or both)? Where does the traffic go to divert the accident? The relevent authorities should have done more to stop Network Rail getting their own way and a better thought out plan draughted up.[/p][/quote]It's only HGVs that have the lengthy diversion. Local traffic can re-route over nearby bridges. It's funny how Wantage and Faringdon residents are aghast at the prospect of HGVs taking a lengthy diversion away from villages whereas residents of Weston on the Green are aghast at HGVs taking shortcuts.[/p][/quote]I didn't realise that commuters and parents drove HGVs. The report says that everyone bar pedestrians and cyclists will have to take the 24 mile diversion, not just HGVs. Neonlights
  • Score: 4

3:21pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Quentin Walker says...

There is a distinct lack of viable suggestions for alternatives to closing the road.
There is a distinct lack of viable suggestions for alternatives to closing the road. Quentin Walker
  • Score: 3

10:44am Fri 5 Sep 14

Mark L. says...

"Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338."

No they have not. Other than two tiny almost unreadable signs at the bridge, there is little or no information regarding a detour route. There are no yellow diversion signs, no road closure warning signs on the A420 and in Wantage/Grove. Few 7.5t weight limit warning signs for the back roads. OCC say it's Network Rails responsibility for signage.
"Commuters and parents taking children to school have been told to take a 24-mile, half-hour diversion route along the A420 and A338." No they have not. Other than two tiny almost unreadable signs at the bridge, there is little or no information regarding a detour route. There are no yellow diversion signs, no road closure warning signs on the A420 and in Wantage/Grove. Few 7.5t weight limit warning signs for the back roads. OCC say it's Network Rails responsibility for signage. Mark L.
  • Score: 1

8:29am Sat 6 Sep 14

Ph1l1p says...

Network Rail and transferring the cost of electrification to the local population. They could have avoided this lengthy closure by building a new bridge before the old one was closed. It would be much more expensive but that is their problem not ours. Planning permission for the closure should have been refused.
As usual the roads policy in Oxfordshire is a failure.
Network Rail and transferring the cost of electrification to the local population. They could have avoided this lengthy closure by building a new bridge before the old one was closed. It would be much more expensive but that is their problem not ours. Planning permission for the closure should have been refused. As usual the roads policy in Oxfordshire is a failure. Ph1l1p
  • Score: 0

4:48pm Thu 11 Sep 14

quoasis01 says...

24 miles in 30 minutes - maybe at 2am, but certainly not at rush hour...

This is another example of the fantastic work of Oxfordshire County Council, like allowing Basil Hill Road to be dug up just as the Foxhall Road bridge is closed.

Plenty of alternatives were suggested to network rail & OCC, but basically there is no budget for anything other than the new bridge & the leader of VWHDC doesn't live near this bridge, so it allegedly wasn't given the same priority as the A338.

What happens for the "few days" when the A338 shuts no-one knows.
24 miles in 30 minutes - maybe at 2am, but certainly not at rush hour... This is another example of the fantastic work of Oxfordshire County Council, like allowing Basil Hill Road to be dug up just as the Foxhall Road bridge is closed. Plenty of alternatives were suggested to network rail & OCC, but basically there is no budget for anything other than the new bridge & the leader of VWHDC doesn't live near this bridge, so it allegedly wasn't given the same priority as the A338. What happens for the "few days" when the A338 shuts no-one knows. quoasis01
  • Score: 1
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