A MULTI-MILLION pound improvement scheme designed to cut congestion in Botley Road will be like 'rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic', according to a city councillor.

Oxfordshire County Council is planning to spend £9.1m overhauling the route from its junction with Eynsham Road to Binsey Lane and consultation is now under way.

Drivers have been facing lengthy hold-ups for months from gas works which could last until Christmas.

The improvements being consulted on include upgraded junctions at Eynsham Road and at Seacourt park-and-ride, new cycle lanes and shared pedestrian and cycle paths, and new pedestrian and cycle crossings.

City councillor Colin Cook said the new scheme was starting at the 'wrong end of the road' and would remove parking spaces outside businesses including sandwich shop Country Grains and bike shop Warlands.

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He added: "The loss of the parking spaces for the shops, which rely on passing trade, is the most serious problem and the solution they have come up with only creates another problem for existing residents - short-term parking spaces (in side streets) which the passing trade won't know about so won't be used.

Oxford Mail:

"It is widening the road under the railway bridge which is the priority for most residents."

Mr Cook said highways bosses should 'have a reality check and ask themselves if the average driver picking up a sandwich from Country Grains or a puncture repair kit from Warlands Cycles is going to go to the hassle of driving into a cul de sac, walk to the shop and back again, and then have to do a five-point turn before driving out again'.

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He added: "Get a grip and keep the short-term parking physically on Botley Road, for which there is space without detriment to the overall scheme, and which these businesses rely upon to survive."

Drivers face hold-ups daily and the proposals are among a series of transport improvements planned for the city over the next few years, with the aim of boosting sustainable transport and improving air quality.

Oxford Mail:

A study of the Botley Road corridor in early 2016 identified key changes needed to encourage more people to travel by bus or other sustainable transport options, to reduce the overall amount of traffic and reduce vehicle emissions.

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Owen Jenkins, the county council’s director of growth and economy, said: “The council is investing in better transport to help Oxford and Oxfordshire thrive - the proposals for Botley Road are the latest in a series of major enhancements that we have carried out to improve infrastructure – London Road bus lane, Frideswide Square, Cutteslowe and Wolvercote roundabouts, Access to Headington.

Oxford Mail:

“This phase of work alone won’t solve all of the city’s transport problems but will work alongside forthcoming schemes like Connecting Oxford, the replacement of Botley Road rail bridge, the second phase of Botley Road from Binsey Lane to the rail bridge, and also completed work like the Frideswide Square remodelling.

“We are also continuing to look at how a more intelligently coordinated traffic light system right along the corridor can be used to give greater priority to buses at busy times.

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“The proposals that we’re now consulting on for the corridor have been influenced already by input from the public and stakeholders at earlier stages of the project."

The project is being funded with £5m from The National Productivity Infrastructure Fund, £3.25m from the Growth Deal, plus £850,000 of funding from developers.

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Other improvements include side road 'entry treatments' to give cyclists and pedestrians better conditions, bus priority measures including a new stretch of outbound bus lane between Alexandra Road and Lamarsh Road, and cycleways running behind the passenger waiting area at a bus stop.

Oxford Mail:

Earlier this month highways bosses announced plans to use cameras to catch drivers using the Seacourt park-and-ride lane to beat traffic queues.

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Consultation on the initial Botley Road designs took place in May and June and a number of changes have been made as a result.

Oxford Mail:

The next phase of consultation is for the traffic regulation orders needed for work to start in early 2020.

The city council is also expanding Seacourt park-and-ride and work is due for completion in the summer.

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Go here to see plans for Botley Road and have your say or view the information at County Hall in Oxford between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.