THERE are fresh calls for a comprehensive plan for the A34 to finally solve the 'bafflingly low profile' of crashes and traffic problems plaguing the route.

Planning and design consultants Barton Willmore and engineering consultancy Hydrock, which both have multiple offices along the busy A road, have teamed up in the hopes of getting local authorities, Highways England, MPs and interest groups to come together to create a long-term, joined-up plan rather than continuing to work 'piecemeal'.

Oxfordshire motorists face near-daily accidents and delays on the A34, which cuts through the county connecting ports like Southampton with the Midlands.

Last year the Department for Transport confirmed there were 3,412 casualties between 2013 and 2017 on the dual carriageway, including 45 deaths.

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In October, Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran said planned work for the A34 needed to 'happen faster'.

She added major improvement work, that was shelved by Highways England until plans for the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway were finalised, needed to be done without anymore delays 'to make a difference to people's lives now'.

A safety review was carried out by the Government agency in 2017 and detailed designs were due to be unveiled last year.

Robin Shepherd, partner at Barton Willmore, said: “The A34 carries upwards of 50,000 vehicles a day and is a vital economic corridor, linking the business and trade centres of the Thames Valley and Midlands to the port gateways in the south.

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“However, it is plagued by issues, including an average of eight accidents a month, and capacity challenges.

“Given that the A34 is vital to the prosperity and economic growth of the Thames Valley, Central South and the UK, it suffers from a bafflingly low profile."

He added: "It’s simply not on the agenda in the debate about the future of our national and regional transport network. Our call for action is clear – we need a solution, and to achieve that we need joined-up thinking.

"The local authorities, agencies, statutory bodies, stakeholders and transport providers whose areas the A34 runs through need to come together and collaborate to find a comprehensive, effective and long-term answer."

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He said he knew solving the A34 was a 'challenge' and the financial cost of doing it in a 'strategic' way that ensured growth and improved safety was high, but added: "The cost of not acting may be far higher than any investment made to tackle the issues.”

Emily Pearson, technical director at Hydrock said there had been some 'encouraging signs', including a proposed major upgrade of M3 Junction 9 and a new Oxford-bound bus lane on the A34 agreed by the Oxfordshire Growth Board.

She added: “However, these are all conducted on a piecemeal basis, and real change is hamstrung by the lack of an overall strategy.

"We believe that a comprehensive, workable strategy is now long overdue, and to kickstart that process, the teams at Hydrock and Barton Willmore are focusing on the issue this year with a view to coming up with a viable action plan for change.”

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A joint Barton Willmore and Hydrock event will be held later this year to bring key stakeholders together to debate the problems and possible solutions, including public transport, smart technology and behavioural change.

Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth did not confirm whether the authority was involved in discussions but said: "Like the majority of Oxfordshire residents I have grave concerns about the A34 not being fit for purpose.

“I have consistently called on governments to look for ways to find additional funding to make the A34 a road fit for the 21st Century.”

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A spokesperson for Barton Willmore said the business and its partner believed 'solving the A34 conundrum' was the key to unlocking prosperity in the region, and that a joined-up approach was the only way to achieve this.

They added: "The objective of this campaign is to bring the right people together to agree that action is needed and a plan for taking it forward."

In 1981 Former Abingdon MP Tom Benyon was the first parliamentarian to complain that the A34 was unsafe and needed improvements, describing it as 'dangerous and pathetically inadequate'.

Highways England was contacted about the latest proposals but did not respond.