THIS was the state of a county road yesterday after it split following heavy rainfall.

Highway workers were last night carrying out emergency repairs on the Oxford Road at Hinksey Hill.

And Oxfordshire County Council said the work was likely to take months.

The Oxford to Abingdon road has been shut in both directions since December 20 due to a landslide on the A4183 between Hinksey Hill and Bagley Wood.

But by yesterday the asphalt had cracked, exposing the earth beneath.

Nick Armstrong, a geotechnical engineer at Wallingford-based land surveyors Fugro, said: “Whenever you get wet weather you will inevitably get landslides. The fact of the matter is many slopes are unstable the wetter they get.

“It will need a significant repair and that will be quite a costly exercise.”

And he said from looking at older photographs it seemed the road had been damaged by subsidence before.

He added: “It would appear this has been an ongoing problem which the council has obviously tried to repair at various points in the past. The bad weather has just made it worse.”

Rodney Rose, council cabinet member for transport, said he had not seen anything like it before in Oxfordshire, adding: “It’s my first real contact with it in this country.”

He also said the landslide was perhaps not surprising considering the record levels of rain.

He said: “There will be some more like it, but probably not as interesting to look at as this one.”

But he said the council had cash in reserves to repair the road – although he said he did not know how much it would cost – adding: “We will get the road fixed and then worry about the money.”

Susan Reynolds, of the Boars Hill Association, said the closure had not really affected residents because there were alternative routes to the city.

But she said: “Once the schools start again I think it probably will be an inconvenience.”

She added: “It is quite dramatic.”

When asked if the road had been repaired before, council spokesman Owen Morton said: “All roads up and down the country are subject to routine maintenance work and Oxford Road is no different.

“More work needs to be done to determine the cause, but initial indications are that this was an issue with the embankment at the roadside becoming saturated.”

He could not say how much the repair was likely to cost, but added: “It’s fair to say the scale of the repairs required will mean the road will be closed for months rather than weeks.”