PLANS to widen the A34 in both directions through Oxfordshire could be presented to the government by the end of the year.

Despite an apparent lack of activity, Highways England bosses have confirmed the £800m scheme is still on the table and research is being carried out.

Highways England spokesman Stuart Miller said this was due to finish and be presented to the Department for Transport before the year’s end.

But Vale of White Horse District Council leader Matthew Barber said he thought the money would be better spent on a variety of projects, even though a third of all journeys on the A34 through Oxfordshire get delayed.

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Mr Barber said: “I don’t think the scheme to widen the A34 is a realistic solution and if it went ahead you would have to re-design junction improvements including those at the Milton Interchange.”

The plan, which first emerged in November 2014, would mean homes in Botley and North Hinksey could be compulsory purchased and bulldozed to make way for the extra lanes – unless innovative solutions were found.

Traffic jams are harming the county’s economy, and Highways England managers are investigating a series of schemes to bring improvements.

One option is the £800m widening of the A34 between junction nine of the M40 and the Chilton Interchange, revealed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board in November 2014.

Mr Miller added: “There are two pieces of research currently being undertaken.

“The first looks at ways of improving journeys between Oxford and Cambridge including the A34 to the M4.

“The second is looking at the A34 between the M4 and M40.

“Both are looking at identifying the different issues and challenges of the road and analysing ways of overcoming them – at this stage nothing is off the table.”

He said the latest work completed between the Milton and Chilton interchanges cost £2.5m, while £4.1m has been allocated for forthcoming schemes in Botley and Peartree that were at the design stage.

Mr Barber added: “I think the price tag of £1bn, and the fact some people’s homes are in the way, makes the widening scheme unlikely.

“The money could be spent on other improvements including upgrading the Peartree Interchange.”

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “Highways England has to look at all options but the widening scheme would cause disruption to a lot of large number of homesaround Botley and it’s questionable whether that would be acceptable.“I think we need to continue the programme of junction improvements because they are making a difference, and a lorry park off the A34 would also help – at the moment lorries have to pull in and out of the laybys and that causes hold-ups.”

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price said no one would be keen on demolishing homes around Botley.

He added: “If you had partial widening, with three lanes created in the Bicester and Abingdon areas where traffic speeds are higher, you could potentially reduce the volume of accidents.”

A 12.5km link road running from the Lodge Hill interchange north of Abingdon to the M40 at junction eight near Wheatley is also being considered at a cost of £400m to £500m.

But the route would go through greenbelt land and travel past villages including Radley, Nuneham Courtenay, Marsh Baldon, Garsington and Cuddesdon.