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.”
- Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.
11:20am Monday 28th July 2014
What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.
Our top stories
9:00am Saturday 25th October 2014
BIKE safety campaigners have warned that cyclists are risking their lives, after an Oxford Mail survey found more than half of them were riding without lights.
5:18pm Saturday 25th October 2014
A FOOTBALL match was abandoned this afternoon after a bottle was thrown onto the pitch.
1:40pm Saturday 25th October 2014
With an extra hour to enjoy - or recover with - tonight is the perfect night to celebrate one of Oxford's biggest nights of music
9:30am Saturday 25th October 2014
Danny Rose is targeting a move into mid-table today as Oxford United visit Carlisle United in search of a third win in eight days.
9:30am Saturday 25th October 2014
FILM buffs were given a taste of how movies used to be watched as they turned out for a silent screening in Witney.
8:49am Saturday 25th October 2014
Police have said the 21-year-old Oxford University student who was reported missing has been found safe and well.