Building high-speed rail link ‘will worsen Oxfordshire traffic,’ says environmental report (From Oxford Mail)
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Building high-speed rail link ‘will worsen Oxfordshire traffic,’ says environmental report
THE construction of the Government’s new high speed rail project will have a “major adverse effect” on Oxfordshire’s roads, according to a report.
An environmental statement produced for a consultation on the first phase of the HS2 project warns that thousands of extra vehicles could use the M40 leaving at junction 10 for the A43 Oxford Road in north Oxfordshire.
Campaigners say they only saw the traffic figures recently as they were “hidden” in the 55,000 page report.
The Transport Department is pressing ahead with the £42bn rail link from London to Birmingham, which will skirt a corner of the county at Mixbury and Finmere.
According to its transport assessment, up to 2,372 extra vehicles a day, Monday to Saturday, could use the motorway junction during construction.
Work on the HS2 line is expected to start in 2017. Two building bases are planned just across the Northamptonshire border near Brackley, to be in use for six years.
Oxfordshire county councillor Catherine Fulljames warned the increased amount of traffic could have an “enormous” impact on the M40 junction.
She said: “If they are going to produce that many journeys it will have an enormous effect on that junction, plus the incinerator traffic which will be routed to that junction with the county’s waste. The junction is not coping now.”
Farmer Rachel Halvorsen of Versions Farm, Turweston, near Bicester, which will be affected by HS2, found the traffic figures after scouring the 55,000 page report.
She has told regular commuters to find another route.
Bernie Douglas, chairman of Villages of Oxfordshire Opposed to HS2 (VoxOpp) said the traffic implication was huge.
He said: “It raises a wider question. There is an awful lot of information either incorrect or hidden from view.”
He said villages including Mixbury, Finmere, Newton Purcell and Westbury had been working together and had responded to the consultation.
In October 2012, the Government announced £1.3m of funding to improve congestion at junction 10.
At the time the district councillor for Ardley, Jon O’Neill, raised concerns that it would not be enough to solve the problems. Work is due to take place this year.
The HS2 site will operate Monday to Saturday, between 8am and 6pm, and until 1pm on Saturdays.
Staff are expected to car share and arrive/leave after peak travel times.
HS2 lead spokesman Ben Ruse said building the rail link would be “challenging”.
He said: “A major part of that challenge is planning how to transport millions of tonnes of excavated material without impacting on rural roads, communities and wildlife.
“Junction 10 of the M40 is highlighted with the environmental statement as a location that will experience additional traffic as a result of construction vehicles.”
“This junction is already renowned as a busy location for traffic.
“That is why the Highways Agency has been carrying out extensive works at this particular junction which will ease congestion. The works are due for completion in May.”
- The Government started looking at creating a high-speed rail link in 2009.
- In 2012, the Department for Transport decided to press ahead with phase one, building HS2 between London and Birmingham, via the northern corner of Oxfordshire affecting villages including Mixbury and Finmere.
- A bill is currently going through Parliament. If approved, work on the line could start in 2017 and it could open in 2026.
- The proposals have met with huge opposition from residents and councils along the route and resulted in several High Court bids to prevent it from happening.
- Phase two of the project could see the line extended north to Leeds.
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