A WATER company and council have dismissed drivers’ calls for more action to ease congestion on Botley Road after emergency roadworks caused chaos.

The busy Oxford road was clogged with massive queues on Monday and Tuesday, with motorists stuck in hour-long tailbacks.

READ: Burst water main causing misery for commuters 

READ: Botley Road burst pipe roadworks clear in Oxford

Oxford Mail:

Despite motorists' anger at regular delays on Botley Road, the county council pointed towards the work it was planning to improve life for cyclists and pedestrians - not drivers.

However, senior managers at the council have since apologised to motorists for the chaos and said they do all they can to minimise delays.

Disruption was caused by temporary traffic lights at the Ferry Hinksey Road junction, as Thames Water worked to fix a burst water pipe near Osney Bridge.

The lane closure was due to be lifted at about 4.30pm yesterday, but some drivers called for a revision of the road network or a wider scheme of work on the pipes to prevent repeat events.

Several complained that the infrastructure cannot cope with congestion, as the knock-on effects stretched across the city and beyond.

Oxford Mail:

Writing on the Oxford Mail’s website, one commenter said: “The issue is the roads - they are over burdened, poorly maintained and well over capacity.”

Another urged Oxfordshire County Council to ‘do something about this junction’.

The county council is investing £9.1m to ease problems on Botley Road, but the scheme aims to make the road safer and easier to use for cyclists, buses and pedestrians - not car drivers.

County council spokesman John Carter said: “The Botley Road project will seize an opportunity to increase overall number of journeys into Oxford, and to achieve this, more efficient travel options will be prioritised - specifically, sustainable transport.

“The project aims to reduce bus passengers journey times, ease urban congestion and pollution and provide a safer, more attractive route for cyclists and pedestrians.

“Improving journeys for private vehicles is not the focus of this project, however, it will balance the proposed improvements with any disbenefits to car users.”

The council predicts that the project, for which public consultation was postponed last month, will reduce car journey times for trips out of the city but admitted inbound car journey times could be made worse.

It is considering bringing in a congestion charge or workplace parking levy to cut congestion by deterring people from driving.

Oxford Mail:

Motorists queuing to get out of Osney Mead industrial estate on Monday evening

Drivers reported hour-long delays coming out of Osney Mead industrial estate on Monday night, and delays heading into the city yesterday morning were made even worse by a two-car crash near the Botley Interchange.

Burst pipes have been a persistent issue in Botley Road - in July engineers coned off the road after a leak in almost exactly the same spot.

READ AGAIN: Botley Road back to normal after emergency Thames Water works completed

The following month, a broken sewer pipe - also at the Ferry Hinksey Road junction - prompted days of delays.

One reader wrote on the Oxford Mail website: “There are always problems at this junction that Thames Water is supposed to fix - obviously all the previous work has not been up to standard.

“It’s about time Thames Water is held to account over this farce.”

Thames Water has insisted there is not a wider issue on Botley Road, however, and said the recent leaks have mostly been on connections between the mains pipe and individual properties.

Spokeswoman Abby Turner apologised for the disruption, adding: “Our engineers worked extended hours to fix the leak and worked hard to reinstate the road. We thank people for their patience and understanding.”

She said reducing leakage is a ‘key priority’ at Thames Water.

Bev Hindle, Oxfordshire County Council's Strategic Director Communities, has apologised for the gridlock of the last 48 hours. 

He said: "We apologise for the delays this morning. The Traffic Control Centre alerted the travelling public to the delay via BBC Travel at 7am and the reason for the delay.

"Thames Water did repair the leak last night, however, the reinstatement of the surface took place at around 8am this morning, at which time our officer was on site. The lights have remained in position to allow the repair to 'go off' properly before allowing the traffic to run on the surface. They are now removed.

"We do take these traffic issues seriously and do what we can to alert the public. As with all urgent works we make every effort to accommodate repairs and minimise disruption."