WORK to improve junction nine of the M40 and cut traffic tailbacks could start in September.

The Highways Agency is in the final stages of developing a £650,000 interim scheme to improve the flow of southbound traffic from the motorway on to the A34 at the busy interchange at Wendlebury, near Bicester.

The work will see the hard shoulder on the southbound exit slip road from the M40 converted into a lane for use by traffic going to Bicester, leaving the two existing lanes free for traffic heading to Oxford.

The section of the roundabout for traffic joining the A34 will be made three lanes wide, as will the intial section of the A34’s southbound carriageway.

At present, traffic queues often build up along the sliproad and tail back on to the motorway, causing safety problems and delaying traffic towards London.

But the agency said it had no plans at present for major improvements at junction 10, at Ardley.

Once the work at junction nine has been completed, the agency will monitor the area to see if traffic flow has improved, or whether it needs to consider a major redesign of the layout in the long term.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “It will ease congestion and improve safety on the motorway.”

The news was welcomed by North Oxfordshire MP Tony Baldry, who has been pressing the agency’s chief executive, Graham Dalton, to take action to end the jams.

Mr Baldry said: “This is moderately good news. We desperately need to see improvements on junction nine, indeed there are a number of developments in Bicester which have as a precondition that there should be substantial improvements at junction nine.

“The not so cheery news is that the Highways Agency told me that there are no plans for any major improvement to junction 10 for the foreseeable future.”