Traffic congestion along one of Oxford's major routes is to be tackled with a £3m package of road improvements.

Planners have released details of a 50-week scheme to improve traffic flow in and out of the city via Headington's clogged-up London Road.

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, said the measures would improve bus reliability and reduce congestion.

Disruption is expected during the two 24-week sections of work - which would start later this year and finish in 2009.

The plans, which go on show next month, have already caused controversy - not least because they involve filling in the subway at the London Road shops.

The subway would be replaced with a push-button pedestrian crossing at Stephen Road.

In the centre of Headington, pavements would be narrowed to accommodate new bus lanes. Engineers said the width would remain above minimum standards.

Other proposals include: Longer and wider bus bays between Pullens Lane and Gipsy Lane A London-bound bus lane between Gipsy Lane and Headley Way A pelican crossing outside Headington School A London-bound bus lane between Headley Way and Osler Road - with a bus gate to give buses priority over queuing traffic Widening the Oxford-bound road approaching Headley Way, to prevent right-turning traffic blocking buses and causing delays Traffic lights at Windmill Road rephased to allow more time for traffic turning right.

County council transport planner Craig Rossington said: "There would be some inconvenience while this work is going on.

"The longer term gains will be worth inconvenience, in a similar way to the work the county council has successfully completed in recent years on the Abingdon Road and Green Road roundabouts."

Headington city councillor David Rundle said: "The most hare-brained idea in the scheme is to concrete-in Headington's subway.

"To remove this would really be seen as a fingers-up from the county to the local residents and pedestrians."

The proposals will be unveiled at two public exhibitions next month - on Friday, July 6, at Oxford Brookes University and on Saturday, July 7, at St Andrew's School in Wharton Road.

Janet Issac, 75, of Kennet Road, a Headington resident for 27 years, criticised the proposal to get rid of the subway. She said: "I don't think many people know about this scheme - and when they do most will be disgusted."

Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach said they hoped any new scheme would improve bus travel for passengers in the area.